Steve Palmer's blog about his son Stanley - who has Down's Syndrome - & the extended family. All about Down Syndrome and learning disability.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Approaching Jesus: not heartwarming. More 'Massive emotional intelligence'

I’m nervous writing about this. Not because it’s not a great and positive story, but because of the way people have reacted and may react. Here’s what happened:

An Easter procession in Mexico saw a young man with Down’s, Juan Pablo, approach an actor playing Jesus. Juan was drawn to the actor because he was walking with head down, appearing upset. He then comforted the actor.  The news story is here

I’m nervous about talking about this because some will see Juan Pablo’s activity as being the result of his ‘mental age’ or lack of capacity to understand. Some have commented that it’s ‘heartwarming’.

But I reject all the above. My Stan would do just the same and I think it reveals something that typically-developed adults don’t always show: massive levels of emotional intelligence. Would you see someone in distress and then take it upon yourself to ignore social norms and go and comfort them? Stan does this all the time. If someone’s upset he pushes everyone else out of the room and becomes the shoulder to cry on.

So I’m making a plea for people not to jump to conclusions about why someone, packing an extra chromosome, might approach a sad-looking person and attempt to help them.

In the comments after the article people do say they find it beautiful and heartwarming but I am much more interested in the person who describes the action as 'courageous compassion'. Once again people with Down's show us that their lives are more complex than many think they are - and that's certainly my lived experience.

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