In recognition of October being National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, this story is about my son Andy…
This month Andy will hit a milestone – he will enter the world of work. No more school, he will be a working man now!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So 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