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How My Child Inspires Me - By Delois Meyer

My child inspires me with her ABCs and 123s.

My daughter, Abigail, is 3 years old and she has a love for letters and numbers. This is a genuine interest she has had since she was able to pick up a book. Abigail's love for the alphabet and counting is my inspiration, but she began inspiring me long before she knew her letters and numbers.

Abigail was an early Christmas present three years ago, born near Colorado Springs. She was delivered by emergency Cesarean 10 days early -- only weighing 4 pounds, 7 ounces. Because of the emergency situation of her birth, moments before she was about to be born, doctors told us she would be unresponsive and they would have to revive her. My daughter was an inspiration in the first seconds of her life - surprising everyone in the room with the sounds of her strong cries. Not only was she responsive, but she also scored high on her first test - a perfect Apgar score. Abigail had already determined she was a strong person out to prove to the world she could do amazing things.

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The moment my husband and I found out our daughter had Down syndrome is as vivid today as it was then. I can see every gesture being made, I remember where each individual was standing around my recovery bed, and I can still hear every sound that happened during the moment we were given the news about our daughter. The pediatrician on call told us about 20 minutes after her birth. She started out by telling us that our daughter had characteristics of Down syndrome and asked us if we knew what that was. She told us she would order the test done to determine what she suspected. My husband asked, in her opinion, if she was sure our daughter had Down syndrome, and the pediatrician said, "Yes."

Her next words were, "I'm so sorry." The news that she had Down syndrome put us in a state of mourning. We were despondent, not knowing anything about Down syndrome and not getting a lot of resources we desperately craved at the hospital. If someone would have told me the day my daughter was born that at the age of 3, she would know all the letters of the alphabet and her numbers through 20, I would not have believed it. I knew having a child would change our lives, but I had no idea having a child with Down syndrome could change so many of my thoughts, wants and beliefs.

Before I fully understood Down syndrome, I did know what to expect from my daughter. I have to admit, in the beginning, my expectations were not high. That expectation changed when Abigail was about six weeks old. My husband and I met a 3-year-old boy with Down syndrome in our pediatrician's office. This little boy was getting into things, talking, walking - doing everything typical of a 3-year-old child. This boy was actually the first inspiration to my family. Since that day, I have made it a priority to have Abigail out in public as much as possible. I want her to be familiar and comfortable with people in public and I want those in public to be familiar and comfortable with her. Abigail is a social little girl who makes friends wherever she goes. She says, "Hi" and waves to people standing in line at stores. People seem drawn to my daughter. Strangers come up and talk to my daughter and me, asking questions about Down syndrome. My daughter and I have dispelled many myths and mistruths about Down syndrome in our conversations with strangers. At the age of 3, she is already educating people and helping to break down stereotypes.

Abigail has inspired me to help others understand Down syndrome and all the great things individuals with Down syndrome can accomplish. People who meet my daughter and have no knowledge about the genetic condition, seem surprised that she knows all the letters of the alphabet and numbers. I do not want these skills to be surprising to others. I want people in my daughter's community to know I have high expectations for my daughter. I want educators at my daughter's school to know I have high expectations for them in how they teach my daughter. Abigail has the capability to do many things, and I want to be sure she has the resources and the support she needs to make those accomplishments happen.

My daughter inspires me in many ways - her charming smile, empathetic nature, quick pats, hugs and kisses. Abigail has a genuine ability to see the good in everyone and the wondrous beauty that surrounds her. She helps me to see things a little brighter and to feel a little deeper.

Abigail is helping make subtle changes in her community one letter and one number at a time. This strength she has is my inspiration to make great changes happen for her and for all individuals with Down syndrome.

 

 

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