I was hiking down the Eorimok trail on Mt. Hallasan in Jeju and chanced upon a late 30s female hiking with a Teenager with Down syndrome.
As their speed was similar to my group, we keep seeing each other on the trail whereby we overtook them, subsequently they overtook us and the process kept repeating. This gave me a glimpse on how a kid with special needs deal with hiking.
It is a 4-5 hour slow hike that’s approx 8km in distance & with gentle slopes. As it was the latter part of the hike, I could see that the kid was tired, even to the point of her legs shaking while standing.
Throughout the process, I was faced with the dilemma of whether to help the pair or not especially when I knew the older female was tired too.
Thanks to my Korean drama obsession, I understand partially of their conversation. The older female has been encouraging the kid to hike on her own instead of she holding her hand. She added that she’s no longer a kid, the hike is easy and she can do it on her own.
As a guardian of the kid, I can understand the older female wanted to train the kid to be more independent in order to live in our society.
Halfway thru, the kid suddenly turned to me & raised her hand to me. I was confused over what she wanted which I mistook it as a handshake. Haha. It turned out she’s afraid of crossing a rocky path and so I hold her hand to guided her thru. When the older female saw, she told me there’s no need for that and told the kid it’s not scary and she shouldn’t trouble other people.
I don’t have any exposure dealing with kids with special needs and hence, so I didn’t know how to react or help. Looking back, perhaps encouraging her would be good and yet let her have a chance to train to be independent.
As per an online article I’ve read, 9 out of 10 babies found to be with Down syndrome are aborted. I thought of the question of whether I would abort the baby or not if I ever get pregnant with a kid with special needs. My answer will be I would only keep the baby if I have the means to support the child in a loving and well-taken care environment.
I strongly believe not to kill any living thing that I don’t even kill ants. We as a living thing should respect another living thing. Yet on the other hand, if I don’t have the means to support my child to only let the child suffer, I had no choice but to prevent that from happening.
Think of the kid being abused or taken advantage or suffered needlessly as I don’t have a means to support the kid. It would have been better off not allow the precious kid to be exposed to the harsh world we live in.
I hoped the kid I met enjoyed her hike and she is able to be more independent one step at a time. I would wish the best for her.
Photo Credit: Trevor Manternach under creative commons