Many years ago someone complimented me on how we had raised Beth and said that "You can tell you didn't let Down Syndrome define her." I said thank you but I've always wondered what exactly that means. Even before she said it, I've thought about that phrase over the years and tried to figure out what exactly people mean by it.
And please know my heart here, I'm being genuine. I just want
to think out loud for a few minutes so feel free to
interject at anytime. :)
Sometimes I think Down Syndrome does define Beth. It causes low muscle tone and slower reflexes and for that reason, Beth isn't able to drive a car.
She never learned to balance a bike and never rode again after we took off the training wheels. (We took them off once but she struggled for such a long time, we put them back on and she eventually got so big for the bike that they broke. And they didn't make training wheels any bigger.)
Having Down Syndrome causes her tongue to be larger than normal and that affects her speech. And when she got old enough to realize people couldn't understand her she became withdrawn and shy.
Would she be shy if she didn't have Down Syndrome? I don't think so because when she was young, about 7, 8, 9 years old she was outgoing and friendly, even to strangers.
In the dictionary the word 'define' has this definition:
-To be what characterizes something
-To describe precisely
-To mark the limits of
-To outline clearly
A few posts back I wrote about the day both Beth and Sharaya were born. To be honest, it was really hard to not mention Beth having Down Syndrome. I kept going there, and then would delete what I had just written because I really wanted it to just be about her birth and not her diagnosis. But it was really hard.
So is Beth defined by Down Syndrome?
-- Or --
Does the term "It doesn't define her" mean that she has hobbies? Like she goes swimming or horseback riding? That having Down Syndrome doesn't stop her from doing the things she likes? Is that what it means?
Is it that she tries new things that people think she isn't able to do? That people think having Down Syndrome would limit her abilities? But I think the phrase "Down Syndrome doesn't limit me" would apply better. (Apply better. Is that a real term?)
Anyway, what are your thoughts on this? What do you think it means?