And the thing is, I am beginning to realize that I can't assume that everyone - even my friends - want the same thing for Finn that I do. People are thinking about their own kids - of course - and what they want and think is best for their kids.
When I started this blog, its function was to keep family and friends apprised of how Finn was doing, as well as to provide a place for me to write and therefore try to cope. While it still serves those functions, it's also become, in large part, a way for me to advocate for Finn by exposing the world to him. My hope is that by following Finn's journey through life here, people might be changed by it. Their hearts and minds might be changed. Their misconceptions, fears, and outdated notions might be changed. Their perspective might be changed.
I don't know if it's working. I don't know if anyone has been changed by getting to know Finn, either here on this blog, or in real life.
Are you still uncomfortable around people with disabilities? People with Down syndrome, specifically?
Would you still be terrified of having a child of your own with Down syndrome?
Do you think Finn is cute and sweet, but only from afar? If you came to my house, would you pick him up without reservation and squeeze him like you might any other baby?
Would you want a kid like Finn in your child's classroom? On your kid's Little League team? Or would you be against that? Why?
Would you invite Finn, or a kid like him, to your child's birthday party? How about for a playdate?
Do you still agonize over your "typical" kid achieving milestones on time, or even ahead of schedule?
See, here's the thing: continuing to segregate kids and people with disabilities only breeds more of the disability stereotypes. How can we expect kids with disabilities to "fit in" so that we can feel comfortable with them if we don't include them in every aspect of our communities? Continuing to force them to live on the sidelines only makes them seem more "odd." Inclusion benefits everyone. It not only gives my kid the opportunities that every other kid takes for granted, which will surely enrich his life, but it also gives other kids and people the opportunity to learn compassion, acceptance, tolerance - for people with all kinds of differences, not just disabilities.
If you think that my kid has nothing valuable to offer your kid, think again.
Imagine this: your kid goes to school, and in every grade level throughout his or her school career, there are one or two or a handful of kids with different disabilities. True inclusion is implemented, meaning appropriate supports are in place, in the classroom, so that every child is getting what he or she needs. They play together on the playground. They get to know each other and play at each other's houses. Being exposed to these kids throughout their formative years teaches your kids to be compassionate adults. They are nonplussed by the sight of a wheelchair, or a person using sign language, or a person with the telltale gait and upward slanting eyes of Down syndrome.
How could that not make the world a better place for everyone?