Thursday, August 26, 2010

Defying the Odds

This morning I got a message from Josh's cousin Chad...

"Hey just started my first day in college and in my education class we have a couple of senior students that help the professors. One of the senior students has Down syndrome and she said that even though she has that difficulty, it doesn't stop her and she is almost done with finishing her major in art education and is on her way to becoming an art teacher. I love her in the class you know, because she has a great personality and brings great energy to the class, that I like. So I just wanted to let you know that because looking at Caydence, I just see her and have so much love you know and seeing that in the class room and you don't hear of that that often is just so great. So I wanted to just throw that to you and send my love.
Love Chad"

I was so glad he shared that with me. Many years ago people believed children with Down syndrome couldn't learn and were useless, so they just left them in their cribs and hid them away. Many were placed in institutions. In fact, in some countries, many children with Down syndrome are STILL placed in institutions.

As advances in medicine came about, like specialized surgeries, hearing aides, feeding tubes etc., doctors were able to help many of the problems that children with Down syndrome are born with and thus prolonging their life expectancy immensely. In 1929 the life expectancy of a person with Down syndrome was 9 years. Now a days it is not uncommon for individuals with Down syndrome to live into their 50's or even older. The oldest person with Down syndrome is currently around 82.

As these children with Down syndrome began to live longer, people began to realize that these children can learn, it just takes them a little longer. And with therapy and more individualized tutoring, they can learn even better. The capabilities of people with Down syndrome are still being discovered.

Unfortunately the problem plaguing most people with Down syndrome later in life now a days is alzheimer's. For some reason, yet to be discovered, people with Down syndrome are much more apt to develop alzheimer's. And they do it at an earlier age. Usually in their 40's and 50's. Hopefully they can figure this out in the future and a cure can be found.

I love hearing stories about individuals with Down syndrome who have defied the odds. So thanks for sharing Chad :)


M said...

Well, then I have another story to add... although it doesn't go too far beyond elementary school. I've never mentioned anything before, and I always have to remind myself why: because I keep forgetting now, just like I did then, that my friend had Down syndrome. I never thought of her that way primarily; she was just a kid.

She lived kittycorner across the street, and was a year older. She was in the normal grade level for her age. The public school did have separate special ed classes, but I know Peggy spent a lot of time with all the rest of the kids as well... I guess I don't remember how it worked. But on our block at least, Peggy was just one of the group. Played the same games, laughed at the same jokes, watched the same TV shows and was never on the outside of any conversation. She was full of energy and known for her constant sense of humor. Really, nobody I knew thought differently of her or treated her different. It was like... Jeff has divorced parents, Tracy hates any kind of sports, David gets the coolest toys first, Peggy takes a little longer to learn stuff. Normal differences that didn't set anybody apart in any major way.

Peggy and I had a special kind of fun together, probably because we were the pranksters. I know of course she had a hard time sometimes, but it seemed like it never occurred to her that it was something she couldn't do something about in some way, or that she didn't have control over her life or what happened in it. She was fun, and funny, and a terrific friend. She had a plan for her future-- get a job and a place of her own someday. It wasn't a wish-- it was something that she was just going to make happen.

But back then when a kid moved away-- as Peggy and her family did around 6th grade--it was sometimes not easy to stay in touch. I even remember that sometimes her family didn't have a phone; they were "working poor." And I couldn't bike that far. Anyway, we lost contact. But often, when I think of what Caydence might be like as she grows, I think of Peggy. And I hope that's the way it goes. Caydence has so much more in her corner, as far as the help and support of family, community, and the medical and educational services. I am so positive when I think about Caydence's life ahead... I know Peggy would be too, wherever she is.

Jenny said...

Awww, thanks for sharing Mary <3 I wish we knew whatever happened to Peggy. Sounds like she had determination though :)

Carrie said...

What a great story! Our little ladies will go far, I just know it! Thanks for sharing!