Welcome to Illinois

Adjusted expectations

Posted in Attitudes to disability, Personal by Matt at WelcometoIllinois on February 12, 2009

I was thinking about the issue of acceptance or patronisation and mascots on the way into work on the tube this morning and have refined my thoughts a little. My point is this:

When we found out G had Down’s syndrome I began adjusting my expectations for him. This was hard to do, and sometimes remains so, but over time I have accepted that my expectations for G are not *lower* than those I have for J, they are just different.

Sometimes when I let my mind wander I imagine J one day being a professional football player, and if I get carried away I maybe daydream about him playing for my team, Southampton, or even for England. (I assume all parents do something similar).

As J grows up and we find out what he is good at and what he is capable of my hopes for him will adjust to fit his capabilities.

When I daydream about G I imagine him one day playing football for a team of people with Down’s syndrome or other learning disabilities, and if I get carried away I maybe daydream about him competing in the Special Olympics or representing his country in a similar event.

Similarly as G grows up and we find out what he is good at and what he is capable of my hopes for him will adjust to fit his capabilities.

What I don’t daydream about for G, however, is that he sits on the sidelines of the school team for years before someone eventually decides to give him a token five minutes in the last game of the season.

If G wants to be part of a team in that way I will of course support him, and if they do give him a token chance – whatever the motivation – I will of course be happy for him and proud of him. But I can’t help wanting so much more for my son. G’s achievements will be limited by Down’s syndrome, but they should be defined by it.

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One Response

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  1. rickismom said, on February 18, 2009 at 6:34 am

    In most cases, the boy does not just “sit on the sidelines”. As I understand it, the child with Down s. will be doing some non-playing function (locker room detail), but that gives them the chance to be around the team, and feel to be one of the crowd. But, as I wrote on my blog, I hope that the few minutes of play become more frequent. All, in all, we have to follow, mostly, what the teen wants for themself.


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