Thursday, March 21, 2013

Being on the Team

My dad is a geocacher (what's that, you say? See and sent me the following blog post about a family who has gotten their son Bryan, who has Down syndrome, involved in their geocaching activities. (And this article is all the more appropriate today, as it is Down Syndrome Awareness Day!

I really enjoyed this article. It reminds me how Bob and I decided early on that instead of restricting our activities to fit what Dean could do, we would figure out a way for Dean to contribute to the activities that we would do otherwise. This requires creativity and an open-mindedness about what "contribution" looks like. This family has done just that with a beloved activity and it looks like the effort has benefited everyone involved, not just Bryan. Having Dean on our family team has shaped not just him, but all of us. Cole and Emmett are loving, accepting brothers who see Dean as just another kid, and their friend. Bob and I have learned to be less judgmental about what other families go through and are more patient (Bob more so than me :)). The whole team benefits.

I also love the chant that Bryan's family uses. Borrowing from another family, we use the analogy of a team for our family, and we talk about what actions build up the team and which actions take away from the goals of the team. Special needs or not, it's all about teamwork anyway, right? That dynamic is heightened in the face of a loved one with special needs who needs more support and a family who needs to learn and grow to support that loved one. Being on the team often means that the very health and well-being of that loved one is either supported or compromised. So I appreciated their chant all the more.

Finally, I nodded with the mom's description of how Bryan approaches the caches. "I can read the maps/GPS like a champ and I can drive us there, but I find that he doesn't have preconceived ideas about what a container should look like or where it should be hidden, so he just looks everywhere! Even if I say 'ehh, no it's probably not there, I don't know how they could hide one there,' then BAM, he has it found." Such an appropriate metaphor for how Dean approaches new activities, new people, and how he loves and experiences everything around him. How does a change in chromosomes lend itself to this openness? No clue, but we'll take it.

Go, Bryan!

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