Harrison’s mommy, Michelle Gilliam, sat down with Warren Miller of WJCT to talk about raising a son with Down syndrome. You can hear her story and learn more about how this mother of a child with Down syndrome speaks out about her love for her son by clicking here.
In honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, I’m raising a toast to my nearly 21-month old son, Harrison. While raising a child with special needs has not been the easiest ride, I don’t think parenting is ever simple. However, despite the ups and downs, you have shown me you can do so much more than I ever expected you to do, and you’re not even two.
When I found out prenatally that Harrison would have Down Syndrome, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I cried, I researched, and I wrote. I recently found a note I wrote to myself around that time, listing all the things Harrison wouldn’t be able to do because he would have Down Syndrome. Ironically, one of the things on the list referred to water. “He may never be able to swim,” I wrote. Harrison started swimming lessons this past summer at around 15 months old and can’t get enough. He kicks his legs and moves his arms the moment he sees drops of water, let alone a pool. He got excited yesterday while we were washing the dog because the water droplets hitting his little head might have signaled the presence of a swimming pool nearby.
I was afraid that because of his disability, Harrison would look nothing like us or act differently than his mom and dad. He is the spitting image of his father. Replace Harrison’s blonde hair with brown, and a mini-me of my husband stands in front of you. On my list of pre-Harrison Down Syndrome fears, I wrote, “He may not be sarcastic like his father.” (Looking back, I have no idea why this was one of my dreams for my child, but you can’t change the past.) Just the other day, I asked Harrison to come to me. He doesn’t yet walk, but has this one-armed crawl that takes him from one room to another. As he started to approach me, I said, “Faster, faster,” and he crawled with vigor. He got within arms-reach and turned around, looking back with a smirk. Lack of sarcasm concerns gone, I wonder what other accomplishments on my “fear list” he will soon complete.
I took my Down Syndrome-fear list and hid it in a dark corner of the spare bedroom closet. I don’t want to see it for many, many years. I’ve learned there is no need to be afraid of what my child may or may not do, I need to embrace how lucky I am to have a spunky, charming child, “disability” or not.
Here’s to Harrison. You light up a room when you enter. I’ve never met anyone with your charisma who can cause people to stop me in the grocery store so they can smile and goo at you. Despite your down syndrome, you raise me UP. I love you, Harrison. My life could never be the same without you.
Mi espanol no es perfecto, pero cuando una familia de Mexico envia un email a nuestro grupo de down syndrome familias, practico mi espanol para ayudarle. Encontre unos sitios con informacion en espanol sobre el sindrome de down.
Aqui hay sities con ayuda en espanol para familias con hijos con el sindrome de down:
Tambien, puedes usar “Google Translate” para tracudir paginas en el internet desde ingles a espanol. http://translate.google.com/?tl=es#en/es/ Poner el texto en el cajina, y puse el buton que dice “translate” en azul.
Espero que estas cosas te ayuda.
Recently, a mother of a child with Down Syndrome from Mexico contacted our local Down Syndrome association. She does not speak English and was seeking help for her son. After studying in Spain in college more than 15 years ago, my Spanish is a bit rusty, but I was able to correspond with her and help her find resources in Spanish for families of children with Down Syndrome. I am sharing them with you in order to help anyone who may need Down Syndrome resources in Spanish:
Additionally, families can use “Google Translate” to translate pages from English to Spanish. However, the instructions to use Google translate are in English, so feel free to share the following tips with Spanish-speaking families looking for down syndrome resources in Spanish. http://translate.google.com/?tl=es#en/es/ “Poner el texto en el cajina, y puse el buton que dice “translate” en azul.”
Harrison and I hope this information helps families from all over the world!
I recently wrote a blog post for Health Source Magazine entitled “Three Tips to Deal with a Special Needs Diagnosis.” Check it out here.