Curves or bends on the little fingers are common in those with Down syndrome. Clinodactyly is the medical term used to describe this. My son has Down syndrome, but I don’t think about the differences in his fingers in medical terms. Those little bends are just a part of who he is.
When he was 9 years old, my son noticed the differences in his fingers. He pointed to his little finger then pointed to mine. He has
limited verbal skills, but his look suggested he thought something was “wrong.” Once when he got older, he directed me to get a box of bandages from the cupboard and put one on each of his fingers.
My boy, the one who fills our hearts with so much love, who teases his sisters, who wipes away my tears, who loves his family with a passion, thought something was “wrong” with his fingers.
But there are those times in a child’s life when we can teach a lesson. I kissed those hands and assured him in every way that there
was nothing “wrong” with him. We interlocked our fingers and held hands like we always had. I had to show him his fingers worked, nothing was “wrong,” and I accepted him completely and exactly the way he is.
Every so often, he points to his fingers and looks sad. Each time I reassure him again. I will continue to do this every time he points out this difference.
We can do this for our children. We can accept them for who they are regardless of the number of chromosomes. This will be the first of many things he might notice that are “different.” It’s my job to help him process these observations. I will be there to reassure him about the things that are different. But, I will always point out the many things that are the same, too.
Along this journey of parenting this child with Down syndrome, I wanted a daily reminder that differences add depth to our experiences and make us unique and interesting.
Now a tattoo graces my wrist, a starfish with bends on the arms. When I look at it, it prompts me to appreciate the beauty of what is unique in each of us.
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