Today was our first time to attend the “Gettin’ Down for Down Syndrome” event put together by the Arkansas Down Syndrome Association. It is not a fundraiser but more like an awareness event or, to me, a socializing/networking event. What I took away with me from the event was more than just a fun experience with the family. No, I took home a boat load of H-O-P-E.
Carly’s mom Beverly:
“My daughter Carly is 26 years old and lives by herself in an apartment in town. She has a job and balances her check book and does all her shopping on her own. I just wish someone would have told me 26 years ago that this could be possible! What a difference it would have made during those early years of doubt and hardships.”
The first thing Beverly’s 26-year-old daughter with DS said when she met Isaac for the first time was, “Oh, he looks just like me!” Then she gave him a kiss on his cheek and rubbed his hair.
Another mom who came up to hold Isaac:
“My son is 16 years old and in the 9th grade. He made straight A’s this first quarter and is continuing to do great in all his classes. Not all his classes are in the Special Ed. department but are regular classes where he is still maintaining a very high average.”
I found myself listening with rapt attention as one parent after another shared stories with me about their children and the accomplishments they were making. Instead of just “saying” how great that was for them, I genuinely began to get excited over each achievement shared with me. In each of those victories won by other children and adults with DS, I was imagining Isaac one day walking in their foot steps. Oh the joy of thinking that one day, with a lot of hard work, he could have straight A’s in school, get an apartment, balance a check book on his own, etc. Oh the endless possibilities and dreams I can dream for my little boy now that I’ve seen it IS possible and I have been given the gift of HOPE.
Now when I begin to get discouraged when other babies younger than Isaac pass him up in development and skills, I will remember the encouragement and advice given to me by the parents I met today. My new favorite saying I’ve taken to heart is “It’s not a matter of IF [Isaac will do something] only a matter of WHEN.”