We recently spoke with a class of Speech-Language students at Molloy College in Rockville Center, NY. My children and I do this at a handful of local colleges, meeting with students in various fields all planning careers working with children with special needs. We do this so these students can put a real face on the textbook diagnosis of Down syndrome. We do this to dispel the myths. We do this on behalf of all people with Down syndrome. All those who don’t have the opportunity to represent themselves to these students and to everyone else who works with people with Down syndrome. We do this so every person with Down syndrome can be represented as an individual instead of as a stereotype.
Our primary message to the students is to SEE and treat the individual not the diagnosis.
According to the stereotypical diagnosis of Down syndrome, my children would be mentally retarded. They are not! I have this statement in writing from the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities based on their latest evaluations.
According to the stereotypical diagnosis of Down syndrome, my children would have heart defects. They do not. Their hearts are perfect! Just like yours and mine despite their extra 21st chromosome.
According to the stereotypical diagnosis of Down syndrome, my children would have vision problems. They do not. They wear no glasses, have no astigmatisms and can see better than me. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was a college student intending a career working with children with special needs. (Mike wearing pretend glasses)
I could go on but [I hope] you get the picture. They are not a textbook case of Down syndrome. No one is! And, I am not saying that Brian and Michael are completely unaffected by their diagnosis of Down syndrome. They are affected… mildly. But, four and a half years into their beautiful lives, we have found absolutely no limitations for Brian and Michael. Delays? Sure, some! Nothing insurmountable. But ABSOLUTELY NO LIMITS!