IF PEOPLE WITH DOWN SYNDROME RULED THE WORLD
Written by Dennis McGuire, PhD
Scrolling through Facebook, we noticed that the National Association for Down Syndrome (NADS) shared an AWESOME article we could not wait to share with you all! Enjoy!
Affection, hugging and caring for others would make a big comeback.
Despite the fact that my family was not terribly affectionate, I have had a crash course in hugging at the Center. I am confident that if people with Down syndrome ran the world, everyone would become very accustomed to the joys of hugging. Fortunately for me, I had a head start. My wife is a native of Argentina, and I got some intense exposure to hugging when I landed in her country and found there were 6000 members of her family waiting to be hugged as we got off the plane.
All people would be encouraged to develop and use their gifts for helping others.
In our world, too often people with Down syndrome are “DONE FOR” by others, when in fact they are great givers. If they ran the world, their ability to minister to others would not be wasted.
People would be refreshingly honest and genuine.
People with Down syndrome are nothing if not straightforward and unpretentious. As the expression goes, “what you see is what you get.” When you say to people with Down syndrome, “You did a good job,” most will answer simply and matter-of-factly, “Yes, I did.”
We believe, too, that a stuffy high society would probably not do well in the world of Down syndrome.
However, we believe that BIG dress up dances would flourish. People with Down syndrome love dressing up and dancing at big shindigs. They have a ball, and …can they dance! (and by the way, who needs a date… “Just dance”).
Most people we have met with Down syndrome also love weddings. This should not be a big surprise. They love getting dressed up, being with family and friends, having good food, and, of course, dancing until the wee hours of the morning. (Many people love it so much, they will chase the band down at the end of the night, begging them to continue.) Perhaps, too, part of the reason they love weddings so much is not just because of the food and dancing, but because in many cases the rules against hugging are temporarily suspended. This may give people a little piece of what I experienced in Argentina. Whoa! Can you imagine what the world would be like with so much affection unleashed?
People engaged in self talk would be considered thoughtful and creative. Self talk rooms would be reserved in offices and libraries to encourage this practice.
People with Down syndrome have a reputation for “talking to themselves.” When conducted in a private space, self talk serves many adaptive purposes.
It is a wonderful means to ponder ideas and to think out loud. It allows people to review events that occurred in the course of their day. It allows people to solve problems by talking themselves through tasks. It allows them to plan for future situations. It is also helpful in allowing people to express feelings and frustrations, particularly if they have difficulty expressing their feelings to others. There is even evidence that athletes who do not have Down syndrome use self talk to motivate themselves. Certainly people without Down syndrome talk to their computer (particularly when it crashes), and likewise many people talk out loud when driving in Chicago. (Of course they may also make odd gestures as well; not recommended if long life is one of your ambitions.)
Order and Structure would rule.
We have heard that many people with Down syndrome are stubborn and compulsive. Now, I know what many of you are thinking…“Did you really have to bring that up?” I’m sorry, but—we do. What we hear is that quite a few people have nonsensical rituals and routines. They can get stuck on behaviors that can drive family members a little crazy.
Despite the irritations, there are also many benefits to these “obsessive compulsive tendencies.” We actually have termed these tendencies “Grooves” because people tend to follow fairly set patterns, or “grooves,” in their daily activities.
What are the benefits of Grooves? Many people with Down syndrome are very careful with their appearance and grooming, which is especially important since they often stand out because of their physical features. Grooves also increase independence because most people are able to complete home and work tasks reliably when these tasks are part of their daily routine. (And while they are not fast … they are very precise.) For many with Down syndrome, grooves serve as a way to relax. Some people repeat a favorite activity in a quiet space, such as writing, drawing, puzzles, needlepoint, etc. Grooves also serve as a clear and unambiguous statement of choice (very important for people with language limitations). This may even be a way for teens with Down syndrome to define their own independence without getting into the same rancorous conflicts with parents as many other teens.
So given what we know about people with Down syndrome and grooves, how would they use this to run the world? Here is how:
- Schedules and calendars would be followed.
- Trains & planes would run on time.
- Lunch would be at 12:00. Dinner at 6:00.
- Work time would be work time.
- Vacation would be vacation.
The rest of this WONDERFUL article can be found here: