I don’t have to tell any of you how special, precious, different or challenging each of our children are. Some of you are just starting and some are well on your way down this journey of daily living with Down syndrome. We all face unique challenges to our specific children; be it health issues, family issues, educational issues, behavioral issues, legal issues or developmental issues. The last thing we need to deal with, is the way society sees and responds to our children based on the way they look, rather than the people they are. My daughter, Lynette, is 23 years old, and has Down syndrome. God blessed us when she joined our family at age three as a foster child. We were finally able to adopt her at age eight. She fit in from day one. She has always been a very happy and trusting person. At first, when people would stare, point or whisper, she would just smile and wave. She seemed unaffected by their behavior. At home, she was just Lynnie. Out in public, we were reminded that others thought differently. About six years ago, Lynnie said something that broke my heart. She said, “Mommy, they don’t like my face!” She finally got it. I answered in the kindest way I could think of. I explained that people weren’t looking at her because they didn’t like her face, it was because they didn’t know her or about Down syndrome. If they did, they would want to be her friend. Sadly, the stares, points and whispers continue. And even sadder is, it isn’t just children. Adults are guilty, too. We have struggled with how to respond to this. Once when Lynn and I were in the grocery store, we were walking up and down the aisles. There was a woman and her two children walking in the opposite direction. With each passing aisle, the children’s stares became worse and worse. They pointed and whispered. Finally, Lynn had had enough and she stopped in the middle of the aisle. With hands on her hips, she said “WHAT?!” Needless to say, that wasn’t the answer, but Lynn felt better for doing it. We have responded out of frustration directly to folks that have been insensitive. But that also seems ineffective. That’s the reason why I wrote the book, “Why Are You Looking At Me? I Just Have Down Syndrome.” To educate people about the subtle differences in people with Down syndrome and to point out that even though they don’t mean to be hurtful, their actions are just that. I understand why people look, but it only takes a second longer to smile. We want people to accept and embrace relationships with people who are different. We are all different in some way.