Eliana Tardio, mother, published author, community leader, national advocate of children with special needs and one of the most powerful Latinas in social media has made it her mission to educate the masses while empowering families/individuals to reach their full potential.
Eliana’s cause hits home for me as my own brother-in-law has Down syndrome and through the years I have seen just how cruel people can be simply due to the lack of knowledge about this disability.
In my opinion what people fail to realize about individuals with Down syndrome is that they have an understanding of their lives, are able to apply themselves in what interests them and establish suitable and meaningful friendships/relationships. The disability does not define who they are, judgmental and misinformed individuals do.
October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and we have asked Eliana to join us in a Q&A to get a better perspective of Down syndrome and those affected by it.
- What did you want to gain when you first began your journey of sharing your story with us?
I started sharing my personal story as a way of understanding my own feelings. For a long time I wrote only for myself, until the day that I felt my heart was ready to open its doors to others. I started blogging privately only for parents of children with Down syndrome, eventually my passion for writing started to grow and that was the time when the blog became a network and as many other parents, I started taking advantage of social media to share my message and find partners who were willing to help me spread the word about the need of inclusion and respect for our children with special needs. Since the beginning I always wanted to give my children the chance of showing their individual abilities and possibilities. The movement that this initiative has generated in the global community has made everything worth it.
- Has sharing your story changed how you view your children?
I have always seen my children with the unconditional love that any mom have for their kids. I never have felt the need of changing them, but definitely, is when you live it that you understand the needs of a community and that´s what I have been doing through the years: To identify the lack of education and awareness, and to work towards inclusion. This’s not about fixing up our kids with special needs but to help society to watch them as people with different abilities that bring us many lessons of love and determination. People with the ability to generate positive changes for their communities if we give them the chance.
- What are three truths people should know about you would like people to know about Down Syndrome?
The truth is that they are people like everybody else. They feel, they love, they grow, they learn and although their development may be slower than others, they are individual with personal abilities. People with special needs bring balance to the world. Many people look at them as genetic mistakes, without understanding that every challenge make us stronger and happier. Life is not about what you get, it’s instead all about what you make with the things that have been given to you.
- What is the main myth told about Down Syndrome?
The Myths limit the truth, that’s why it is so important to beat them. They’re not angels, they are not eternal kids. They’re not sick. They’re regular people with different abilities, that’s it.
- What message do you have for parents of children with special needs?
Parents should treat their children with Down syndrome without making differences because of the diagnosis. It’s important to let them grow facing typical challenges and learning to be proud of being who they are.
Once that we learn that they’re perfect the way they are, we’re ready to keep going celebrating their personal achievements without the need of comparing them to anyone else.
- Do you believe enough information and research is being shared throughout the community about what causes down syndrome and caring for children with this special needs?
Down syndrome is caused by the triplication of the chromosome 21. It’s the most common genetic condition since the beginning of the world, but there has been a lot of prejudice around it. People need to understand that they are not sick and they´re not limited. They have just different ways of living and loving.
Education is the key to beat prejudice. That’s all that people need to evolve and learn how to celebrate life in all its expressions.
As parents they only thing that we expect from society is to treat our kids without making differences.
- How can we do our part in raising awareness about Down Syndrome, what it is and what it isn’t?
The best way to make awareness is to educate with our daily example. Educate your children about disabilities as a regular way of living with different abilities.
Our children with special needs have the right to live in a world without prejudices. Please educate yourself to focus on their abilities instead their disabilities.
Thank you Eliana for being an inspiration for so many!
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