(I promise my next post for National Down syndrome month will be funny (or funnier).
When we first got Thorin he would go up to anyone and everyone. He had no sense of ‘stranger danger’.
I would often hear people say, “He’s so friendly!”
I am from Wisconsin. When two people are in the same aisle at the grocery store you must say “Hello”. You must. When walking down the street and passing anyone really – you say, “Hello”.
(I made the mistake of doing this when I first moved here and I got followed home a couple of times.)
So, I know a little about ‘friendly’. Thorin was not being ‘friendly’ he was being ‘boundary-less’.
As his sense of self has developed I noticed he is more discerning about who he will engage with. (He most always shakes hands upon meeting a new person but that’s just good manners.)
I trust his instincts when it comes to new people. I have seen him refuse to have anything to do with someone. That’s OK.
I think a lot of people are clueless about children in general and personal boundaries. I think even more are clueless about kids with Down syndrome and some are down right creepy.
I have had strangers practically demand a hug from him. A couple times I didn’t intervene fast enough and they get their wish fulfillment. It’s like rubbing the Buddha’s belly for them. “Hey, I hugged the Down syndrome kid. Lucky me!”
His before school teacher came up to me this week and said “Some kids were treating him like a toy.” Instead of letting him dance on his own they would pick him up and swing him around. Before she could intervene he screamed at them. No words – not even ‘No’ – just screaming.
She did explain that he was a boy not a toy. If they wanted to touch him they had to ask. She made it clear he had feelings. He was a person not a thing.