Dear Mrs. Sander,
Five and a half years ago, my daughter gave birth to a little girl, her eighth child. My son-in-law called me with the news and told me that she has Down syndrome. Knowing what an amazing couple they were, I said, “You will make her the best Down syndrome child she can be”.
Chaya was the first ‘ihr einikel’ named after my mother, who had died just a few weeks before. I knew I would love her, but despite my being an SLP (speech language pathologist) and having worked with children of varied disabilities, I had not known how much nachas I would get from her.
For two years, Chaya went to a Chabad/Montessori school with an aide. All her therapists came to ‘The Gan’ to deliver services. (She is now in a regular school with the same aide, in kindergarten) The speech therapist was a man who was not Jewish. One day Chaya looked at him and said, “Mr. Eric, you a boy. Where your yarmulka?” The teachers were excited; Mr. Eric was thrilled to see how she put together what she knew with what she saw. They immediately e-mailed my daughter at work.
Every time I call her house, Chaya sings “You are my sunshine” to me on the phone. She truly is everyone’s sunshine.
I wish you hatzlacha with publishing DSAU; it is a great resource. Once, in a PT (physical therapy) clinic, a non-Jewish woman saw me reading it and told me that she had a little boy with Down syndrome and she wasn’t sure she was getting all the services he needed. I showed her the issue that discussed IEP meetings at length and she promptly copied some of the information. Later, she thanked me for helping her advocate for her son.
May your Moishey and all your children continue to be a source of nachas to your family and Klal Yisroel.
This article first appeared in issue #16 of Down Syndrome Amongst Us