I believe humans have the capability to understand individuals with a disability, not just tolerate them. My four-year-old daughter, Abigail, has Down syndrome. I want people in my community to know my daughter for her personality, not the label she has been given. My daughter happens to have Down syndrome; the diagnosis of Down syndrome does not describe her as an individual.
My daughter is an inspirational little girl. She has a charming smile, empathetic nature, quick pats, hugs and kisses. Abigail has a genuine ability to see the good in everyone and find beauty in everything that surrounds her. At the age of four, my daughter is reading, counting and continues to learn skills that may have been beyond our imagination.
I want my daughter’s educators to have high expectations for her academically. Early intervention and inclusive education are proving that individuals with Down syndrome can lead productive and independent lives. My daughter needs to learn English, Math and Science along with her typically developing peers. I am hopeful for days that my daughter’s peers will include her in everyday activities; not because they are told they should, but because they understand her and want her to be included.
I am giving my daughter the opportunity to dream big and reach the goals she desires. My daughter needs to be challenged in her education in order for her to succeed and I am here to make sure that happens. No limitations should be set on any child. Children will rise to the expectations that are given to them. My daughter is no different.
I want the label that has been given to my daughter, and all the misconceptions that go along that label, to be erased. I believe it is possible for my daughter to grow up in a community that is free of discrimination and full of understanding. My goal is not to teach tolerance, but to promote understanding. This understanding may leave others with an appreciation of why I believe in my daughter and why I want my community to understand her.