Mental disabilities can be very serious, debilitating, and even life threatening. They can also have side effects on other functions in your body. What doesn’t get showcased very often are the positive traits of someone with a disability.
my brother, Jacob, has Down Syndrome.
Although I have only one sibling and he has a mental disability, I have learned more from him than I have from all of my years in public school and college. Even though at times I wish life hadn’t granted him the downfalls of being different, there are a ton of positive gains from my brother having Down Syndrome.
We have no sibling rivalry. I know this is something many siblings can’t compare to. I feel extremely lucky to be able to never compete with him. While we do argue over the volume of the TV (he likes it loud), and our music preferences don’t always align, we make it work. We cheer each other on unconditionally. We push each other to succeed and we look out for each other.
Jacob is quite the social butterfly. Growing up, I always had a fear that he wouldn’t fit in. We can all admit that high school was pretty tricky – or at least it was for me. Can you imagine being in high school but you look differently, talk differently, and think differently than anyone else? All of these fears were mine, not his. When I picked him up from school one day and was walking through the halls with him, I realized that Jacob was the most popular kid in school! Not only did everyone know who he was, they loved him too.
He always has a positive mindset and pure intentions. Jacob is amazingly kind hearted. He also genuinely cares about every single person. Jacob may be shy at first, but if you express interest in rap music or Disney movies, you can consider yourself his best friend. Jacob has no prejudices. He has a beautiful heart, and an even more gorgeous spirit.
With Jacob, you get what you get. In a world of passive aggressive behavior, it is relaxing to know Jacob will give it to you straight. He is set in his ways. While this can be frustrating at times, it is also a blessing. I know he hates the heat, birds, and sudden noises. I also know that he loves music, movies, and chicken wings. I’ve had to modify certain activities, such as choices of restaurants and outdoor events, but I would never modify my brother.
From my end, our relationship goes back and forth from siblings to me being his second mom. I’m extremely protective of him. It has definitely been a preparation for parenthood (don’t worry Mom, not yet). Over the years, I’ve noticed that he’s becoming more and more protective of me too. We look out for each other in this world. A common misconception about those with disabilities is that they are unable to connect and be there for those in their lives.
Jacob has been and always will be there for me. Not many can say that about their siblings. While I have to drive us places, pay for our meals, and explain why drinking soda late at night isn’t a good idea, I also don’t have to fight with him. So, I guess that’s kind of cool.