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A Parent's Perspective

My Work Out Buddy

by Steve Bauccum

Last summer, I became frustrated when arthritis in my knee kept me from being able to jog, and I decided to undergo surgery. After finishing physical therapy, I resumed my previous workout schedule at the YMCA. My son, Wesley, asked to join me. He walked in a 5K race the previous spring, and wanted to start training for the next year’s 5K!

I think back on how we felt eleven years ago, when Wesley was born. Wesley arrived about two weeks ahead of schedule, following an uneventful pregnancy. Wesley was our first child, and his having Down syndrome was not in the forecast. Carol had to be given general anesthesia for the delivery, as he was delivered via an emergency C-section. The neonatologist hinted to me that she would like a genetic consult, even though Wesley’s Apgar scores were good. She showed me the single crease in his palms, the folds in his eyelids, and the low muscle tone. The genetic testing confirmed Trisomy 21.

Although we were shocked and saddened by the news, we were blessed that two parents of children with Down syndrome came to visit us before we left the hospital. By the time we left, we heard positive stories from both parents about their child with Down syndrome. Since their stories were very similar, we left the hospital with a vision of where Wesley would be five years down the road.

Back to the present… during our workouts Weseley puts on his Walk Man, and huffs and puffs for thirty-five or forty minutes on the treadmill. Wesley learned how to adjust the speed of the treadmill belt, stop and start it, and follow the safety procedures. I have had some great father and son bonding times along the way. Weseley shaved 20 minutes off his previous 5K time, and learned that hard work pays off!

After the initial feelings we had to deal with on the news of Wesley’s diagnosis of Down syndrome, we are seeing Wesley mature beyond our wildest dreams. And thanks to my work out buddy Wesley, my knee feels a whole lot better now!

Ben

by Becky and Joel Halvorson

Amid splashing and sounds of laughter, giggling and chatteringcould be heard as a young woman and a little boy carried on a conversation. They were making the most of the pool on a warm spring day. Vacationing in Arizona, we were lounging behind them and could see how much they were enjoying each other. In a little while, they came over to us. The young woman told us how much fun she was having with this little boy because he reminded her of her younger brother who wasn’t vacationing with her. I knew what was coming…she said her younger brother, Derek, has Down

syndrome. You see, so does our son, Ben…the little boy with whom she had been chatting.

We had a pleasant conversation before the young woman left the pool. We didn’t get her name, but she is just one of many people with whom we have a special bond because of our role of parenting a child with Down syndrome. Because of Ben, almost daily we have an encounter with someone who otherwise would not have

noticed us.

Ben has the power to break down barriers between age, gender, race and disability. In the face of this sweet boy, people seem to see hope.

Eight years ago, we mourned when we learned, prior to his birth, that our baby would have Down syndrome. While that is a natural and necessary process, we soon rejoiced for the marvelous baby boy born into our family and for the young child he would become.

That young boy is now entering second grade. He reads and does math. He has a yellow belt in taekwondo. He participates on t-ball, basketball and swim teams. He asks daily if we can go to choir or scouts.

He works hard for every achievement, and our family is proud of each one. However, Ben’s greatest accomplishment is how he changes people and how he has taught us to see the world differently and to be more compassionate. While we don’t pretend to understand the reasons people are born with disabilities, we do know that their lives have great value, and they bring tremendous joy and meaning to others. They impact the world and change hearts.

Our 10-year-old daughter, Olivia, said last week that she wished everyone in the world would accept people who are different. She said that the people who don’t take the time to get to know Ben are really missing out on something wonderful. Olivia is 100% correct. Ben is a treasure, and your new baby is as well. Allow yourself to grieve for this diagnosis of Down syndrome. More importantly, allow yourself to rejoice for the precious child you have been given…he or she will bless you and your family more than you can ever imagine.

Precious

by Larry and Marie Dodson

Hello, we are the parents of a beautiful young lady with Down syndrome. When she was born, we were only eighteen and nineteen years old. She was our first-born.

At birth, the doctor hesitated to let us know that our baby had

Down syndrome. Instead, he called in another pediatrician who

compassionately revealed to us that our daughter was born with

more chromosomes than normal. She continued to explain that

the extra chromosomes resulted in Down syndrome. We cried,

“Why me Lord?” So much went through our minds that tested our faith in God. Accepting that our child had Down syndrome was difficult because we had such big plans for her, and we thought they had ended.

The healing process began when Larry named our daughter Precious, and we accepted God’s will. We did not want to spend our lives mourning God’s blessing. Having Down syndrome is what makes Precious different, and is what makes her special. Larry and I became like “The Little Engines that Could” by meeting each challenge head-on. As the little choo choo would say, “We know we can, we know we can!”

Note: Precious Dodson is now thirty-three years old. She leads an active social life, serves on the Buddy Walk committee, and holds a full-time job.