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What the Parents Of Kids With Down Syndrome Want You To Know

What the Parents Of Kids With Down Syndrome Want You To Know

Dear Stranger,

You may not realize it, but I see you watching my child. Your eyes are everywhere: at the playground, the school, and even in the grocery store. Your stare follows us, and I can even feel your thoughts. You’re wondering about my child, why he looks different, pitying us for our misfortune of having him, feeling sorry for the life my family is living – a life where my child has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Passing judgment is such an easy thing to do, but before you judge us, I want you to understand some things about my child.

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The first thing that I need you to understand is that neither myself nor my child have chosen the road of Down Syndrome. It is a difficult road full of intellectual and medical uncertainties, such as lower IQ, heart defects, deafness, and respiratory infections. But no mistakes were made during pregnancy to cause my child to have Down Syndrome. Sometimes things happen that you didn’t see coming. In my child’s DNA, one extra copy of chromosome 21 changed the entire life of my child. It’s that one extra copy that sets my child apart from yours, but please know he isn’t all that different.

It can be seen from the outside that my child has Down Syndrome – this is why you look at him when we pass you. But take a moment to understand what is behind his appearance. His eyes may be slanted, but he holds all of the world’s laughter and joy inside of them. His mouth may look small while his tongue seems too large, but his smile will completely warm your heart. And while his arms may not be very strong, the hugs that he freely gives with them are powerful enough to hold a person together.

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You may have a hard time understanding my child’s speech, and if you saw his test scores you might not be too impressed. And long after your child has stopped having temper-tantrums, my child may still be going through them. But we are lucky to have such wonderful supports from school and Down Syndrome organizations, with therapies and kind teachers that push my child to succeed. My child may not make the milestones that yours does – but his are just as amazing.

Because my child has Down Syndrome, he is not going to be like yours. But in life, no two people are ever walking down the same path. Everyone has their own journey, and this journey is mine to take with my child. There is no doubt that the road ahead will be full of obstacles for us both. In a world made for everyone who is “normal,” it is not easy to fit in when you are so extraordinary. There will be times ahead of us that are filled with frustrations, and tears, as we are continually reminded of the differences between the “normal” world and our child. On these day we remind ourselves that our child is a gift, and no matter how difficult it may seem – he will change the world.

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So next time you see us in the mall, or the restaurant, or taking a walk on a sunny day, please don’t feel sorry for us, thinking about the life that he is destined to miss out on. Instead think of the life full of wonder that he experiences every day. Try to understand how special he is, and how luck we feel to have him. Though his heart may have defects on the outside, the inside of his heart is full of kindness and caring that he loves to give to the world. Share a smile with him, and I promise you won’t be disappointed at how quickly he will make your day.

Sincerely,
A Very Thankful Parent

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Featured photo credit: Rebecca Wilson via flickr.com

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Last Updated on April 8, 2020

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Assuming positive intent is an important contributor to quality of life.

Most people appreciate the dividends such a mindset produces in the realm of relationships. How can relationships flourish when you don’t assume intentions that may or may not be there? And how their partner can become an easier person to be around as a result of such a shift? Less appreciated in the GTD world, however, is the productivity aspect of this “assume positive intent” perspective.

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Most of us are guilty of letting our minds get distracted, our energy sapped, or our harmony compromised by thinking about what others woulda, coulda, shoulda.  How we got wronged by someone else.  How a friend could have been more respectful.  How a family member could have been less selfish.

However, once we evolve to understanding the folly of this mindset, we feel freer and we become more productive professionally due to the minimization of unhelpful, distracting thoughts.

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The leap happens when we realize two things:

  1. The self serving benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt.
  2. The logic inherent in the assumption that others either have many things going on in their lives paving the way for misunderstandings.

Needless to say, this mindset does not mean that we ought to not confront people that are creating havoc in our world.  There are times when we need to call someone out for inflicting harm in our personal lives or the lives of others.

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Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi, says it best in an interview with Fortune magazine:

My father was an absolutely wonderful human being. From ecent emailhim I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’ So ‘assume positive intent’ has been a huge piece of advice for me.

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In business, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things. You can either misconstrue what they’re saying and assume they are trying to put you down, or you can say, ‘Wait a minute. Let me really get behind what they are saying to understand whether they’re reacting because they’re hurt, upset, confused, or they don’t understand what it is I’ve asked them to do.’ If you react from a negative perspective – because you didn’t like the way they reacted – then it just becomes two negatives fighting each other. But when you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.

“Assume positive intent” is definitely a top quality of life’s best practice among the people I have met so far. The reasons are obvious. It will make you feel better, your relationships will thrive and it’s an approach more greatly aligned with reality.  But less understood is how such a shift in mindset brings your professional game to a different level.

Not only does such a shift make you more likable to your colleagues, but it also unleashes your talents further through a more focused, less distracted mind.

More Tips About Building Positive Relationships

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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