My brother's name is Finnian. He has Down syndrome. I am glad to have Finn as a brother. He is not much different from any other baby. He laughs, he cries, he eats, he sleeps, he plays with toys. He doesn't look much different from any other baby either. He has blue eyes and blonde hair. When I see him, I don't think people would say, "Ohh, that kid has Down syndrome!" I think they would say, "Ohh, that's a cute baby!" Maybe when he's older, someone might be able to point him out in a crowd, by the way he looks or acts. But that doesn't mean he's not as good as some other kid.
I think many people are extremely uneducated about disabilities. I can go ask any kid at my school what "retarded" means, and they would tell me it means "stupid." I'd be willing to bet money that that's what some of the teachers would say, too. Wow, my brother has an extra chromosome. That makes him dumb, doesn't it? No, it definitely does not. And someday he may grow up to be smarter than the people who call him "retarded."
People tell me all kinds of things when I tell them all about Finnian, and why they shouldn't use the word "retarded." I have been told everything from "Yeah, whatever" to "Well, your brother's not here right now, is he?" to "Do you have a disability?" to "Well, if I can't say retarded, can I say 'tard?" It's crazy! And frustrating, too. One kid even told me, "Well, retarded is the proper medical term that doctors use." True, but it's a totally different story when you say it as an insult. On the other hand, I have also had people tell me, "Oh, I get it now," or tell me about a disabled kid at their church or something like that.
Were you watching TV the night President Obama made that joke about the Special Olympics on the Jay Leno show? I wasn't, but I heard about it and it made me mad. I can't believe the President would say something like that, especially on TV.
Having Finn for a brother has totally changed my perspective about disabilities. I used to get creeped out when I saw a person with cerebral palsy. I used to not care at all if someone said "retarded." Now I don't get creeped out when I see someone with a disability. I know that having a disability isn't wrong or weird. It's just different. And I hope people won't think Finn is weird, or creepy. He's not. I love him, and I wouldn't trade him for the world.