By Kat Abianac.
Today is World Down Syndrome Day. I wish today wasn't necessary, but I'm willing to ride the social media wave to make sure my child has a seat at the table right alongside yours. Always.
Don't have Down syndrome? Then get to work celebrating those who do. But first, here's what you need to know about how to behave today ...
DON'T: tag special needs parents in every single awareness post today. Being aware of awareness doesn't make you inclusive. Try sharing that post on your timeline so people who don't already give a crap will actually see it. Feels awkward? Not as awkward as the face special needs mums make when you tag them in the same meme for the 5th time that day.
DO: Pick up the phone and invite them (and their child) for a catch up with your typical child of the same age.
DON'T: Salaciously gossip about how hard our lives are and what a trooper we are for dealing with 'everything we've been dealt.' We love our kids unconditionally, Becky, and only we are allowed to complain about them. Let's not compare who has the worst life at the table. Exactly who could ever win that conversation?
DO: Tell us we're doing a great job. If you're a good friend and we complain a lot, buy us a nice Brene Brown book as a gift so we can work on our mindset. But do it with love because everyone has their own story.
DON'T: Assume you know a lot about people with Down syndrome. Even if your sibling or child is a homie with an extra chromie. You know that saying? 'If you've met one person with Down syndrome, you've met one person with Down syndrome.' You know nothing, Jon Snow.
DO: Ask people with Down syndrome about their lives when chatting: not the person next to them. In fact it's a great life rule. Less chatty more asky. If they need help with the convo they'll let you know, or figure it out. 'You'll literally never know unless you ask'.
DON'T: Cry at photos on the internet shared by some jock's mum whose son took a girl with Down syndrome to prom. That's awesome for the girl and super exciting and thoughtful, but that's about as meaningful to me as who my next door neighbour goes to prom with. She deserves the best of the best, just like everyone else's kids.
It's just a given to me that people will be gentle and kind with my son, and it shouldn't be unexpected when someone with a disability is included in experiences like everyone else. She probably got invited because she's awesome. Did you think of that? That she's actually really fun to be around?
DO: Cry your brains out watching carpool karaoke videos featuring many beautiful children with Down syndrome and their parents. Watch and consume the many, many video resources and movies willingly and knowingly participated in by people with Down Syndrome.
WATCH: Young woman becomes first Zumba instructor with Down syndrome. Continues after video ...