by Bob Doman
Today is marked as a day to raise international awareness of Down syndrome and to help advocate for the rights of people with Down syndrome.
Having worked with many thousands of individuals with Down syndrome from all over the world for over fifty years, NACD needs to begin a discussion of rights, with the right to be perceived as unique individuals with unlimited potential as a primary focus.
Perception of potential is used to define what constitutes an appropriate opportunity. If you do not have a vision of what can be, your limited vision will dictate what will be.
Individuals with Down syndrome can live a “normal” life, including being educated and going beyond high school to college, trade schools, and other specialized training. They can drive cars, live independently, have decent jobs, and good social lives. And they can fulfill dreams if given the opportunity. But the first requirement is the vision of what can be.
I’m writing this having just finished a Skype evaluation with a five-year-old little girl with Down syndrome, who has been on an NACD program since she was ten months old. Ioana, who lives in Romania, is reading and doing math on about a high second grade level and loving it. Her processing and short-term and working memory are above many of her typical peers. All of her functions are equivalent to her typical peers. But Ioana is not a miracle. Where she is today is the reflection of the vision that we all have for her and the opportunities that we have provided. Ioana is not alone. We have children all over the world doing this well because we, NACD and the families, have the vision of what can be and are providing the opportunities so it can be.
One of my all-time favorite NACD videos was one made by one of our children (who happens to have Down syndrome), Arianna, who lives in Barcelona. When she was 17 years old, she approached her mother and told her she wanted to make a video so that people could understand Down syndrome better and provide them with some insight into the life of a teen with Down syndrome. Arianna wrote her own script and filmed her presentation in English, Spanish and Catalan, the three languages that she speaks, reads and writes fluently. As you will see, she is a very intelligent child with a message that should actually resonate with everyone. You do not have to be perfect.
Today Arianna has a very full life and is in her 4th year of trade school in administration and customer service. She is presently doing her internship as a receptionist in a psychologist’s office. She is a very competent young lady. We are very proud of Arianna, as we are of our other children and families around the world.
Reprinted by permission of The NACD Foundation, Volume 34 No.3 2021 ©NACD
Start with the vision!