My Angel’s Superpower Shines on World Smile Day

Sabrina L. Johnson avatar

by Sabrina L. Johnson |

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Angelman child's happy demeanor | Angelman Syndrome News | Juliana sits on the grass in a pretty green dress with a green bow on her head while flashing a smile. She is opening a gift.

Juliana, 3, flashes a smile. Researchers have not yet uncovered the reason why smiling and laughter come so easily to children with Angelman syndrome.(Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

If I hadn’t seen it countless times, I would never believe a smile could make someone’s day. Leave it to my 11-year-old Angelman child’s happy demeanor to do just that.

The first Friday in October is World Smile Day. It’s supposed to be a day for a random act of kindness to make another person smile. The holiday has nothing to do with Angelman syndrome, but it is the perfect day for Angels. That’s because Angels typically love to smile.

The happy demeanor of Angels is a trait they seem to share. Researchers have even studied the phenomenon, although the science behind it is somewhat inconclusive. That’s OK with me. Like so many of my Angel’s unique characteristics, I simply strive to appreciate the joy that comes from her happiness. Scientific and intellectual challenges aside, it’s my daughter Juliana’s beautiful smile that people remember when they see her.

Sometimes, Juliana will even touch or hug a complete stranger. Then, she’ll shine that beautiful smile and let out a hearty chuckle. I’ve come to believe it’s her special gift. Her superpower.

Most strangers are happy for the attention and don’t mind an impromptu bear hug. In fact, I can only remember one person who was not very happy when Juliana grabbed her, smiled, and then burst into a giggle. I guess you can’t please everyone, even with a smile that lights up a room.

Leaving cheer everywhere

While it seems like Juliana is always smiling at everybody, two examples have stayed with me through the years.

The first one happened a few years ago, when we visited my mother-in-law at a nursing facility. I can still remember the crushing smile and giggle that she gave an elderly gentleman as we passed. The man lit up like a kid on Christmas morning. When he thanked Juliana and gave her a big smile back, I knew that she had made his day.

The other time happened as we passed a woman at a grocery store. She looked so sad to me, but as soon she caught sight of Juliana beaming at her as she sat in the front of our shopping cart, the woman thanked us for lifting her spirits.

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labels \ Angelman Syndrome News \ Photo of backpacks hanging from wall hooks. One is black and pink and one is green.

Labels Speak for My Angel When She Can’t Chime In

It seems sometimes my Angelman child’s happy demeanor is magically able to reach out to just the right person, someone who needs their spirit lifted with a smile. The gestures seem so random and there is no way of knowing for sure where or when she might strike. I believe there is some reason for Juliana’s smile that is known only to her. The research suggests that Angels don’t appear to laugh indiscriminately, that it occurs more in social settings.

Angelman child's happy demeanor | Angelman Syndrome News | Juliana flashes a big smile and is accompanied by her mother, father, and sister in a wooded, outdoor area

Juliana flashes a big smile for the camera with her mother, father, and sister. (Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

I think it’s so beautiful that Juliana sprinkles sunshine around our neighborhood with her smile. She may not be able to carry on a typical conversation, but Juliana is engaging them in her own way. She is communicating and giving people exactly what they need — a random act of kindness that gives them something to smile about.


Note: Angelman Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angelman Syndrome News, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Angelman syndrome.


Sarah Hollingsworth avatar

Sarah Hollingsworth

This article hits the nail on the head!
What a blessing these beautiful children are!

Sabrina L. Johnson avatar

Sabrina L. Johnson

Yes, they are, Sarah. I try my best not to take that for granted. I like the nail on the head reference. Thanks for your comment.

Erin Platts avatar

Erin Platts

I remember my Angel, Bridgitte and I were at the park, we were standing at the top of the stairs that led to the beach, but there was no wheelchair access, people were walking past us and this homeless man was there, everyone was trying to avoid him but Bridgitte grabbed him, pulled him towards her and hugged him and smiled! I saw the biggest smile from the man who was invisible or avoided by everyone else, and I'm sure he had tears in his eyes while smiling and hugging Bridgitte! 💖 Angels have no judgement, only unconditional love! She was about 11 then and has kept us and everyone around her smiling for almost 32 years! # Angel magic.

Sabrina L. Johnson avatar

Sabrina L. Johnson

Angel magic indeed! What a beautiful story, Erin. Bridgitte saw just what he needed and surely made his day. Thanks for sharing this special memory. Isn't it funny how these quick encounters stay with us?


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