It wasn't so long ago that I still fretted, wondering if people who look at Finn could see that he has Down syndrome. A lot of people have been surprised to find out that he has Ds, because, they insist, "He doesn't look Downs!" Which, I'm sure they mean in a helpful, positive way, but which really isn't helpful or positive because that remark, by its very nature, implies that it must be a bad thing if someone who has Ds actually looks like they have Ds. And people generally seem to believe that the more subtle the outward physical characteristics, the more "mild" a case of Ds the person must have. I've even had doctors make this assumption about Finn! And I'm here to say that there was a time that I held out hope that this was true. I rationalized in my head that if that pesky extra chromo manifested itself so subtly in his facial characteristics, then wasn't it reasonable to assume that it would also manifest itself "mildly" in his cognition and range of abilities?
Well, the plain truth is that there is no correlation between the manifestation of outward physical traits associated with Down syndrome and health issues associated with Ds or cognitive and developmental potential. None.
I've accepted this truth. And honestly? The older Finn gets, the more clearly I see Down syndrome in his face. And you know what? I adore that face, I really, really do. He's beautiful to me.
I tend to assume at this point that people who see Finn can tell right off that he has Ds. Whether this is actually true or not, I really don't know. But since I see it so clearly, I just assume that everyone else does too.
One of the traits Finn shares with a lot of other children with Ds is The Tongue. Let's talk about The Tongue, shall we?
It seems to be unsettled among the experts (doctors, geneticists, etc.) exactly what causes the notorious Protruding Tongue in people with Down syndrome. I've read that people with Ds actually tend to have larger than normal (haaa! "Normal" - there's that word again!) tongues. I've read that no, they don't have a larger tongue, just a smaller mouth cavity. I've read that no, it's neither of those factors, it's actually the low muscle tone that causes The Tongue.
Eh, who knows?
But Finn has it. He has The Tongue. Finn's tongue seems to be something of an extension of himself . . . sometimes it almost seems as though it has a mind of its own, the way it snakes out stealthily to explore some new object. He uses that thing to examine new things, to accentuate his ear-to-ear grin, and to offer up affection. He's a Licker, I admit it. Don't go trying to kiss him unless you're willing to accept a wet one.
I've spent a lot of time feeling self-conscious about Finn's Tongue. But you know what? I'm over it. It's part of who he is, and I'm totally okay with that. And you know what else? He's in good company, because he's got a couple of potential girlfriends (they're lining up, I tell you!) who also have The Tongue: Georgia and Playette.
Rock on, kids.