The genius of Down syndrome

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Really, truly, what does one say to that?

Dancing On The Box.

Friday, 10 August 2012
Anyone who thinks people with Down syndrome (or other developmental disabilities) are not smart, needs to think again.

Some of the most intelligent and insightful remarks made in this family have been made by the people who have "labels". 

Patrick - my middle child and only boy - has Down syndrome. He has been known to come up with some brilliant things. Things that at first glance may seem wrong but - on closer inspection - border on genius.

I recall a speech language therapy session when Patrick was about 4 years old. We - Patrick, the Speech-Language Therapist Elise and I - were working on the concept of Similarities and Differences. Patrick worked on a worksheet. Down the left hand side of the paper were pictures of objects. Patrick's task was to describe an aspect of those objects. On the right hand side of the paper were pictures of three corresponding objects. Patrick was to pick the one that had a similarity to the object on the left. He was winging his way through it. Clearly, he had the concept down pat.

Until the last grouping. On the left, Patrick easily identified a picture of leaves. Just as easily identified that leaves grow on trees. Off to the right were pictures of an apple, candy and an egg. Elise prompted - "Patrick, which of these also grows on trees?" Patrick pointed.

At the egg. 

Elise quickly covered her dismay with encouragement - "Patrick, use your words to tell us which of these also grows on trees... the APPLE, the candy or the egg?" Supremely confident, Patrick pointed to the egg and announced "the egg!"

I felt my stomach drop. Elise stopped hiding her dismay. She pulled back, made a face and said "Patrick! Eggs don't grow on trees!"

Patrick considered her with a look normally reserved for those we pity. He cupped his baby fat hands and explained - 

"Yes. In the nest." 

My son doesn't just think outside the box...he dances on it.