Along for the Journey: Having a Sister with Down Syndrome

Guest post by Aria Kim

My youngest sister Elena (13) has Down syndrome. In many ways, Elena is the best thing that has ever happened to my family.

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about Down syndrome; many people assume that raising a child with a disability is challenging. As Elena’s older sister, I have found that the biggest challenge comes from the people who try to limit her. I try to teach Elena a bit of everything I can do. In the last few years Elena has learned to swim, paint, write stories, and argue with my parents. I feel a lot of pride in knowing I helped her achieve those goals.

When I look at Elena I don’t see a girl with a disability. I see a friend, sister, and helper.

People often treat individuals with Down syndrome differently and I believe that is something that needs to change. In recent years I’ve noticed a lot more awareness has been brought to the Down syndrome community. I’ve noticed big steps towards inclusivity in the entertainment industry and recently Victoria’s Secret gained their first ever model with DS.

While I think that’s absolutely amazing, 13 years of experience with Elena has taught me that changing the way the world views Down syndrome starts with small steps. Every time my family has dinner we allow Elena to speak for a few minutes about whatever is on her mind or what she’s done throughout the day. It’s the little actions that make Elena know she is loved and respected every single day.

Individuals with Down syndrome are just as important to our world as any other person. I make sure my sister remembers that. Elena can do whatever she sets her mind to; I’m just blessed to be along for the journey.

About the Author:

Aria Kim is a senior in high school and lives with her parents and two younger sisters in Birmingham. Aria plans to study communication in college and attended a writing workshop in Washington DC over the summer. She has been a huge support to GiGi’s Playhouse Detroit this summer by facilitating an art activity in Kids Club, and contributing several posts for our blog. Siblings are an integral part of the Down syndrome community and we are thrilled to have Aria in ours.

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