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Our Journey to NACD Changed Our Lives

by Joan Burns

Seems like just yesterday (seven years ago) a tiny bundle of love was handed to me, his bright eyes seemed to say “thank you for being my mom.” This was and is true of our son as he shows his love and appreciation for everything we teach him.

“Your son has Down Syndrome” the doctor said in a slow sad voice. “There is nothing anyone can do, it won’t go away. It is a chromosomal abnormality.”

“Your child will be slow and limited in what he can do. In other words, your child is mentally retarded. Again I’m sorry, take him home and love him.”

It was very hard at first to decide which direction to turn, phone calls to different agencies asking for help only resulted in recommendations to place Ernie into the Intermediate School System, until he was twenty-five years old. This environment I knew would only label Ernie and I wanted him to live a normal life. For three years we searched, then we opened a door to the National Academy for Child Development.

Ernie, our son, was evaluated in St. Louis, Missouri and Bob Doman, Jr., found a very intelligent little boy. For one thing, Ernie was already on the flash reading. So we at last were at a starting point. “Yes,” Bob said “your son is on his way to regular reading and will do very well with your help on a home reading program.”

A program was given. I couldn’t wait to get home and start. Every three months we would start out on our twelve-hour journey to St. Louis excited about our son’s progress and ready for a new program.

Ernie was the first person to be evaluated from Michigan. The word was out and soon people were noticing our little boy’s progress. Every time we would go into department stores or restaurants, he would read out loud and people would turn and say “Isn’t he smart, reading so young!”

The bottom line is work! You don’t get results from dreaming, we work at it. Now three and half years later, little Ernie is right up to the average seven year old, and above in some areas.

What is normal anyway? Ernie’s example proves that people can be helped if they want to work at it.

The one person that started a great school of learning is hardly ever mentioned, Robert J. Doman, Jr., our National Director who spends hours every day trying to better NACD.

Along with him, Bob’s father, Dr. Bob is always doing research to help accelerate learning potential and development.

Where would our children be today without this great leader? His dedication to mankind is the most unselfish kind of job a man could ever take.

Let us remember how it was before we found NACD, we were at a stand still with our children searching for answers. Bob has those answers when our children are evaluated every three months.

Someone once said, “I think Bob Doman lays awake at night thinking of things to better the programs.” This may well be true, as there are different ideas each time he gives a new program.

We, the Michigan Branch say “HATS OFF” to Bob Doman, Jr. Giving Michigan a chance, by opening a new branch here, is another way Bob shows he dedication to mankind. Thank you Bob!

Reprinted by permission of The NACD Foundation, Volume 7 No. 5, 1986 ©NACD

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