Andy’s Story – Growing Up with Down Syndrome

In recognition of October being National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, this story is about my son Andy…

Andy on the Riverwalk in Newport, Kentucky

Andy on the Riverwalk in Newport, Kentucky

This month  Andy will hit a milestone  –  he will enter the world of work.  No more school, he will  be a working man now!

BabyAndyPlaidVest

Baby Andy

Andy was a sweet, and thankfully healthy, baby from the beginning.  We did not know what his having Down syndrome would mean for us.  We just took him home and loved him.
Right away we signed up with the Butler County (Ohio) Board of MRDD and Andy started “school” at age 6 months.  He’s been through Baby and Me, Early Intervention, pre-school, 2 different elementary schools (we moved between 3rd and 4th grade), junior high, high school in a combination of “regular” and “special” classes in our local school districts, and post high school job training.   You can imagine that he’s glad to be done with school and move on. 
6th grade camp, Andy on right

6th grade camp, Andy on right

Andy at Fairport

On the dock

Along the way he’s participated in adapted sports and music classes, and was also able to be in choir with his peers in junior high and freshman year of high school.  He’s had speech and occupational therapy, art classes (he loved ceramics), and group music therapy. 

Boating Class

Boating Class

He went to school and community dances.   All these experiences gave him the social skills to succeed.  From the beginning, we decided that if he had appropriate social skills and behavior that he would go far no matter his intellectual level. 

Prom with Megan

Prom with Megan

All of this has landed us where we are today, with an almost 22 year old young man who is happy and healthy, very independent, has his own ideas, likes movies, music and sports, and is anxious for the next stage of his life to begin.  We are very proud of him, as are his grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers and friends.  He is our only child, the only grandchild and only nephew – nooooooo he’s not spoiled!   He is the apple of our eye.

Drummer

Drummer

 

Singer

Singer

 He will be employed by Vocational Guidance Services, an arm of the Lake County (Ohio) Board of MRDD.  He will have real work – they get contracts for assembly, packaging, mailing, shredding and have their own shipping department.  This is the work he has trained for and for Andy, I believe this is where he will be happy.   He will make new friends.  A job in the community  may be available to him in the future, and he may want to move into that area, it is now his choice. 

P1000584

What does the future hold for Andy?  He will continue his community activities.  Travel with the family, visits with grandparents.  We believe at some point Andy will like the idea of moving into a group home with his peers – he is such a social guy that we don’t believe he would be happy living alone.  As Andy was growing up, we always told him we would let him grow up (because in a way you would like to keep them little forever), but he had to promise to move out someday!   So that will be our next goal.

Andy at the top!

 Have there been challenges?  Of course, but we have been very lucky that we lived in school districts and counties that had excellent programs for children with disabilities, and that believed that those children deserved a place in the school and the community.  We had excellent day care for Andy, where he was treated no differently from the other kids and was expected to behave just like them.   Andy had teachers and coaches throughout that worked diligently with him to make him the best he could be.  He had peers who were his true friends.   He had extended family who welcomed him and loved him unconditionally.  As parents, WE have been supported along the way by these same people and others too numerous to mention.

Andy Lake1So we say, Rock On Andy!  The future is yours…….

For more information on Down Syndrome:
National Down Syndrome Society
National Down Syndrome Congress

.. and many other web sites including your local Down syndrome association.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Want more stories about Andy?   Of course you do!  Links to my other stories about Andy:

Pizza, a Movie and a Guest Chef
Friday Night, Party Night!
Andy Returns!
Andy’s Adventures
Time Bandit at PPIP

Also our vacation blog starting with:

Cleveland to Tuscon Day 1
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About SallyK

A little blog about the ordinary and not so ordinary things our family does, places we travel, things we see. Like travel, cooking, family stories, book reviews, music? You will find it all here - comments welcome!
This entry was posted in Down syndrome, Family, photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Andy’s Story – Growing Up with Down Syndrome

  1. Jack says:

    Thanks for sharing Andy’s story. I appreciated getting to know a little about him and you. And as this is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, thought I’d pass along an easy way to help raise awareness: check out this short video — http://www.ahamoment.com/vote/barry — about the aha moment of father of a child with Down Syndrome who learned what you can do with challenges. If you like his story, click to vote for him, as the top vote getters in the contest will be aha moment TV commercials next year. More media exposure around Down Syndrome awareness would be a very good thing, so spread the word if you can.

    Thanks,
    jack@ahamoment.com

  2. Wendy P says:

    I found you via your comment on Our Normal Life. Thanks for sharing Andy’s story!

  3. Anna says:

    Andy may be considered as having a disability, but it’s obvious from your photos and story that he has a lot of ability too; go Andy!

    I hope all goes well with the job and that the move away from home follows naturally.

    Thanks for this post.

    Anna.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    What a beautiful, personal post. I am glad I stumbled upon in via your comment last week. Your willingness to share your son with readers is both generous and inspiring. Bravo!

  5. Kat Arney says:

    Good luck Andy – best wishes to you all 🙂

  6. Precious Gem says:

    Hi..I was touched and inspired with this wonderful story. I wish Andy all the happiness and the bright future he desereves.

    Sincerely,

    Precious Gem

  7. stammering says:

    Hi. I genuinely liked reading your blog post!. Top notch content. I might suggest you to come up with articles a bit more often. Using this method, with such a helpful website I imagine you might rank higher in the search engines 🙂 . I also subscribed for your RSS feed. Carry on this excellent work!

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