_Gifts 2: How People with Down Syndrome Enrich the World_ is a refreshing look at the real and ordinary lives of individuals with Trisomy 21 of all ages; both as touching and as enlightening as the earlier book, _Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives_.
_Gifts 2_ shows us through short but powerful character sketches and stories that there is great diversity in the ways children and adults with Down syndrome enrich our communities and the world. Because the focus is on what they bring to us rather than holding them up to a standard of development or accomplishments, we are introduced to each person as an individual. It is not only the superstars among individuals with Down syndrome who we treasure, or who bring out the best in us.
A great deal of information about the potential of babies with Down's Syndrome issues from a medical model where challenges are listed first, or exclusively, rather than describing whole people who happen to have brought an extra copy of chromosome 21 with them. Rather than describing children and adults who are partially disabled by difficulties associated with the syndrome, a dismal picture is painted that is in direct contradiction of the potential, abilities and accomplishments of individuals who have the support and encouragement that allow them to reach their true potential. Individuals with Down syndrome may enjoy a better quality of life and richness of experience than their mainstream peers, and they certainly improve both for those fortunate enough to be counted as friends and advocates.
Most positive, reality-based articles and books providing information about babies and children with Down syndrome discuss the population in general, hoping to inform and raise the hopes and expectations of families, educators and medical professionals through general discussions. Top-selling are those about early intervention, speech therapy and other strategies that encourage our sons and daughters to reach developmental and academic goals. _Gifts 2_ demonstrates how much individuals with Down syndrome have accomplished in all areas of family and public life.
It has been only in recent decades that people with Down syndrome have been encouraged to tell us their stories from their own perspective, as in Count Us In: Growing Up with Down Syndrome by Jason Kingsley and Mitchell Levitz, and the National Geographic Kids article by Melissa Riggio. By raising our expectations for all people with Down syndrome, we allow ourselves the luxury of learning the value of each one, no matter how they might compare in an artificial competition.
There have been powerful stories written by parents, including those in magazines and parenting newspapers, and books like Greg Palmer's Adventures In The Mainstream: Coming Of Age With Down Syndrome, often showcasing individuality and accomplishments. Writing about teens and adults, advocates hope to increase opportunities and support, as well as to eliminate misconceptions and reduce prejudice as they transition to independent living, supported employment, or other options.
Those who know a family member or friend who has Down syndrome, or who have learned or worked with an extraordinary individual with Down syndrome, know it would be as tragic for the rest of us as it would be for individuals with Trisomy 21 if their number continued to diminish or, heaven forbid, they 'disappeared' from the world. In a world of prenatal testing, poor genetic counseling, and fantasies of having a 'perfect' child, the writers in this volume remind us that people with Down syndrome are gifts, too.
Browse at your local bookstore, public library or online retailer for this fascinating book: Gifts 2: How People with Down Syndrome Enrich the World or its companion, Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives.
Melissa Riggio Made a Difference
Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives
Video of photographs on YouTube:
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher - and had also checked it out from our local public library