Penny was on spring break last week. Our original hopes for a quick trip to Jamaica never materialized, but we did get to spend two nights with Penny’s friend Rachel and Rachel’s mom Ginny. We booked a suite at a hotel with an indoor pool, got our nails done, ate delicious food, and finally figured out the right pair of glasses for Penny.
Over the course of our time together, I was struck by all the things I’m still learning (or relearning) about Down syndrome.
Teenagers With Down Syndrome
One, these teenagers with Down syndrome have a lot IN COMMON WITH TYPICAL TEENAGERS. Rachel and Penny both long for a boyfriend. They love romance and musicals. They would both like to work as event planners or in food service. They love getting their nails done and eating pizza and sitting in bed watching movies and eating salty snacks.
Two, these teenagers with Down syndrome have some particular things IN COMMON WITH EACH OTHER. Penny and Rachel both have sensory issues around tags on clothing. They are both small in stature, so we talked about retrofitting kitchens to accommodate adults who can’t reach high shelves. And their scalps both get very dry. (In fact, I learned on this trip that there’s a special shampoo we could use to help with this. Who knew?)
Three, these teenagers with Down syndrome have significant DIFFERENCES from one another. Rachel is taking a criminalistics class because she loves murder mysteries. Penny loves writing essays. Rachel loves making dance videos. Penny holds in emotions while Rachel is quick to express them. Their food preferences differ. Their sleep habits differ. Their needs differ.
All of this is to say, these teenagers with Down syndrome both belong within generalized groups (teenagers, Down syndrome), and they manifest their own distinctive personalities and desires and identities. And I am grateful I got to spend two days with both of them.
More with Amy Julia:
- Book: A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny
- Free Resource: Missing Out on Beautiful: Growing Up With a Child With Down Syndrome
- Down Syndrome’s “Exclusive Club”
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