My only son, James, has Down syndrome and is 7 years old. We call him Riley most of the time but also like to call him “Tank”, “Booger”, “Peanut”, “JR” and James Riley (when Mom is upset with him). Our family consists of Mom, Dad, Riley, and our two dogs Smitty and Angel.
My dreams and goals for my son Riley are that his life is full of love and happiness and that he live his life with direction. A direction to know his faith and have an understanding of God and morality; to know that there are family and friends that love him; and to find a trade that he is capable of working and that he enjoys doing so that he can support himself and have a purpose.
In order for him to reach these goals, Riley needs continued support from his family and friends to teach him his faith and to show him love through life-enriching experiences. He needs the support of his community to allow him to live a typical life by welcoming him at church, at school, and in his neighborhood. He needs to continue his therapy. He needs to continue his education with the goal that he is “included” in the typical classroom whenever possible.
He is already working toward these goals. The supports that we have been blessed with include early intervention through the “Babies Can’t Wait Program”, the Medicaid waiver, early special education programs and private therapies including physical, occupational, and speech.
The one thing I want everyone to know about Down syndrome is that the syndrome does not define the individual. To say collectively that “Downs” kids are this way or are that way is incorrect. Individuals with Down syndrome are just that – individuals. They might share similar traits as a result of the syndrome but each person has their own special set of genes that make them uniquely special as in any typical person.