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World Down Syndrome Day and Progress

Thursday, March 21, 2013 @ 3:31 PM

Let us all celebrate the changes in education; acceptance and opportunity for those with Down syndrome over the past two decades. I wish I could just write a happy article here and discuss "where we're going; where we've been" kinds of things. But I can't. Since this is the day we have set aside to really evaluate the improvements in our children's lives and the needs ahead of us, this must be a day we really look at this. For every cute, adorable, huggable toddler with Down syndrome, there are equally delightful adults who do not draw quite as much favorable attention. When our children are born, we worry. About all of our children. We want nothing more than for them to live happy, healthy and meaningful lives.

Each time we read about a tragic misunderstanding, it reminds us of the need for outreach, awareness, opportunites and access. The hardest thing to do after reading about the sad end to the life of Ethan Saylor is to NOT change our behavior. As parents, we have to continue to propel our adult offspring into the public. We have to help them find work. We must send them to the gym and to churches and communiy colleges and to enrichment classes. They want and need to go to concerts, restaurants and outdoor art fairs. And they need to be accepted as vital threads to the fabric of each and every community.

So read about Robert Ethan Saylor and his life and death. Cry as I did. Then continue to encourage your family and community to accept and embrace each person in your community. Resist the temptation to just watch movies at home to be safe and use this day as a reminder of the role individuals with Down syndrome have in our livs and our communities.

To the family of Ethan, our thoughts and prayers will be with you.