What is it like to grow up with a sister who has Down syndrome? I sit back and reflect, trying to imagine life without Leah. The first thing that comes to my mind is that I don’t know who I would be had I grown up any other way. So much of my foundation is made up of what I have learned from her. The way that I interact with others on a daily basis is different because of her. The way that I view the world has been turned upside down. My hope in the goodness of every person I meet started with Leah. The limitless abilities that I see in all types of individuals, despite circumstances that may assume otherwise.
My perspective is entirely rooted in her.
What is it like to grow up with a sister who has Down syndrome? Every day brings new challenges. Patience is practiced with each decision that must be made, even it it’s just where to grab lunch. Sacrifices are made. Uncomfortable situations arise when a friend slips the r-word in your presence, immediately apologizing afterward. Laughter is abundant and unique to only our family and close friends, for to understand it is to be a part of it.
My parents have selflessly devoted their lives to supporting all of us through whatever life throws our way, but more on that later. I am now 27 years old and Leah is 33. Our sister Megan has served both the role as middle child and co-oldest child alongside Leah, as they only differ in age by one year. Megan was a mentor to Leah from Preschool through High School. Undoubtedly, I served the role as the youngest child, equipped with a spunky attitude and the confidence that if I believe it, I can and will achieve it. I was always around to stir the pot.
We are all adults now, and we have years of memories to reflect upon and write about. I am excited to share our story, and even more, I’m excited to shed light on Leah’s perspective on these moments.
Here’s to turning our minds Upside Down.