by Bob Doman
In his relatively short life, nineteen-year-old David has impacted and had a very positive influence on the lives of his four siblings, as well as his nieces, nephews, and the hundreds of children he has worked and interacted with at the family’s childcare center. If not for David, none of his siblings would have had the NACD jumpstart on their lives, nor would their children. If not for David, they would not have had his mother’s model of hope, faith, and tenacity as she worked and continues to help David be all he can be, or David’s model of perseverance, compassion, and selfless hard work.
Today David works at the childcare center about 15 hours a week and is expanding his duties and hours. In addition, he still willingly and happily does his daily NACD program. David presently plays with and entertains the children and serves the toddlers their lunches and takes care of a variety of little jobs that are needed around the center. He has a large social community through his family, coworkers, and of course all the kids, and is also involved with Special Olympics.
One of David’s significant contributions is to the children at the center. Young children accept most everyone for who they are. They’re not just color blind, they are “different” blind, they just accept people as they are. David just being there, just another person, a person who plays with them, entertains them, and even feeds them, teaches them to value him for who he is. Hopefully these early lessons will have a positive impact on the rest of their lives. As David is demonstrating, you don’t need to be a super star to have value, to contribute, and make other lives fuller and better.
Tragically many in the world have not learned the lessons the toddlers in the childcare center are learning and have not learned to value those with exceptionalities, including those with Down syndrome. Counties are starting to “proudly” announce their success in eliminating Down syndrome. Many countries now are making a concerted effort to eliminate Down syndrome. Prenatal screenings are encouraged, if not pushed, for the express purpose of identifying babies with Down syndrome so they can be aborted. Today in countries like Iceland and Denmark they are coming close to aborting 100% of Down syndrome fetuses. In the United States the rate is about 67%.
Some of my favorite people have Down syndrome. I see them as wonderful, valuable, contributing members of our families and communities. Our families around the world adore their children with Down syndrome and can’t imagine what their lives would be without their precious child. Most of those born with Down syndrome have the potential to live full, happy lives and contribute to their families and communities.
We at NACD have been working for decades with many thousands of families who have children and now adults with Down syndrome. It is tragic that babies are being aborted out of ignorance. It is also tragic that most individuals with Down syndrome are not really being given a real opportunity to become all that they could be because of perceived limitations. The baby born today with Down syndrome can become a happy, fulfilled, gainfully employed adult; can get a higher education; can drive a car; can live independently and live a full, rich, wonderful life—if given a real opportunity. But, as David demonstrates, even those who do not achieve such a level can be happy and help enrich and contribute to the lives of all the rest of us.
There is a place for us all. Don’t be afraid to move over a tad, offer a hand, and make room for a wonderful person who has an extra chromosome.