But there have been many people before me who have worked tirelessly so that I can say with pride, "I have a son with Down syndrome."
One family that has helped me along the journey could definitely be called "trailblazers." Forty-five years ago, their son, Dan, was born. Their actions and beliefs -- and the actions of many other parents like them -- have given me and my son many opportunities and much hope.
How did they blaze a trail? Let me recount just a few ways...
- They said "No" when offered the institution after their child's birth (yes, in 1965).
- They said "No" when told their child couldn't read.
- They said "No" to doctors and educators with grim prognoses.
- They said "No" when people asked whether their other children might be "harmed" by a sibling with special needs.
- They said "Yes" to giving their child as many opportunities -- and responsibilities -- as their other children.
- They said "Yes" to schools and programs which pushed Dan to be his best.
- They said "Yes" to letting him live with as much independence as possible, even though it is very hard to let go.
Today Dan is an amazing man. He lives in a group home and helps care for some of his friends in the house. He can read the bus schedule better than many typical folks and go wherever he needs in his area. He loves baseball and the amusement park. He has a job. He has a girlfriend. He lives in another state than his parents. He has a cell phone. And an e-mail address. Did I mention he has an extra chromosome?
|Dan and Henry meet for the first time|
Because of Dan and his family -- and many families across this country like them -- I don't have to fight for my child to go to school. Or live with his family. Or so many other opportunities that I take for granted.
|What a great pair they make!|
So, to Dan and all of his family -- thank you for blazing the trail!