The National Advocate for People with Down Syndrome Since 1979

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Why Are You Looking At Me? I Just Have Down Syndrome
Why Are You Looking At Me? I Just Have Down Syndrome

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.




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Don Tolliver, United States, TN
8/7/2013 11:55:33 AM
Hi Lynnie and hi mom. Your story hits home for me. My 4.6 year old daughter has downsyndrome too and you both are beautiful to me! I sometimes worry about her future and how she'll be viewed by "society", but it's hard not to "care" what others think about our kids. I am hopeful and prayful that she will find peace through-out her life despite the close-minded judgments of others and I pray the same for all children with that diagnosis.

Mary Mello-Nee, United States, IA
8/1/2013 1:17:51 PM
So true

Denaize Chaney, United States, VA
8/1/2013 10:54:45 AM
Hi Lynne..I have just read your story. I think you are Beautiful! My 13 year old grandson, Thomas, (who calls me MeMom) is in the Down Syndrome Club also. When he gets older he wants to be in a band!! Like you, sometimes his feelings are hurt by others who do not understand about the xtra 21. I think some people are very rude and do not realize how they can send a negative message with a stare. Thomas just smiles and says, "Hey Man" and keeps going. Beauty is more than a facail look. It is always whats inside that counts and I know you are beautiful there also. Love, MeMom.

ed sopelak, United States, CT
7/31/2013 9:14:21 PM
I love how this wonderfully written and illustrated story launched out of real life experience, common to many others, from the life of an exceptional young woman shares intellect and emotion successfully in a means as to bring us all closer together! Thank you for sharing Lynnie :-)

Lori Mumpower, United States, GA
7/29/2013 10:25:18 AM
Vote!

Patti Folkerts, United States, FL
7/29/2013 8:39:24 AM
Lisa and Lynnie have done a beautiful thing--the children's book is simple and straightforward, yet kind and positive. It teaches by encouraging children that there is nothing to fear, and that down's syndrome doesn't mean that the person is inhuman or strange, just different! It also very gently (and indirectly) reminds them that it is rude and hurtful to stare at people. Lynnie's courage and strength of spirit is a beautiful thing, and I'm so glad she agreed to share her story with the world in this way!

Mary Allen, United States, FL
7/26/2013 5:22:59 PM
Wonderful and inspiring

Mary Allen, United States, FL
7/26/2013 5:21:32 PM
Wonderful and inspiring

Bruce Tompkins, United States, ID
7/25/2013 3:39:50 PM
Very special!

Carol Schweikert, United States, FL
7/25/2013 6:48:07 AM
Lisa has written an amazing book, great for all ages. Lynnette is a young lady who always greets you with a smile and a sweet hello for everyone. Her heart is sooo big and it hurts me to know that she has her feelings hurt also! this book helps everyone to understand that all people need love and sweet words and that we all have differences.

Dale Hokrein, United States, FL
7/23/2013 11:15:36 AM
love that this story is told from the viewpoint of a real person. It helps me walk around in her shoes, something few of us take time to do in our busy lives. It is frank, yet puposely positive. I would definitely share this with my children as I teach them to love actively people who are different from them.

Larry Edison, United States, FL
7/23/2013 8:44:56 AM
The barriers we build between people because they appear different from us; is just so sad. This is such a well-done book, and addresses the issue of appearing to be different (and the prejudice, ridicule, etc that goes with such a judgement). This book is a great challenge to break down those barriers and stereotypes. Well done! Larry Edison

barry tompkins, United States, OH
7/18/2013 10:44:38 AM
I love you Lynnie you are my hero

Linda Neely Hicks, United States, NY
7/18/2013 9:47:28 AM
I've known Lisa and her family for most of my life. We got together last summer in FL and had fun catching up on old times and great memories. Lynnie is a sweet and endearing young lady who always has a smile. I donated a copy of "Why are You Looking at Me..." to our school library last year to help share their story, and I encourage others to do the same.

Bobbi Williams Realtor,CDPE,GRI, United States, FL
7/14/2013 4:01:50 PM
Excellent Book and definitely should be read to all school children.

Joan Neely, United States, AL
7/11/2013 5:24:33 PM
Known Lisa and Lynnie for many years and have seen Lynnie grow in so many ways, thanks to Lisa's and her husband's tutoring. They are all a delightful family. I bought copies of the book for my children and donated a couple to a pre-school. All were autographed by Lynnie and Lisa.a

Lynne Peters, United States, RI
7/11/2013 5:23:34 PM
Great story....

Lynne Peters, United States, CT
7/11/2013 5:21:11 PM
This is a wonderful book and comes from a wonderful family. Very inspirational and it makes me smile every time I see the photo of Lynnie and her book!

Barbara Gough, United States, SC
7/11/2013 10:35:16 AM
The young lady that is the topic of the book "Why Are you Looking At me? I Just Have Down Syndrome" is our granddaughter. And what a special and loving lady she is. She has been the Sunshine in our family for as long as she has been part of it. She has so much love to give and gives it freely. Everyone needs to realize this and, better yet, experience it. To know a special needs person and be loved by them is being fulfilled.

Lisa tompkins, United States, FL
7/10/2013 2:46:12 PM
Thank you for the opportunity to reach so many with our message.

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