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Oh Yes She Can
Madison Essig
Madison Essig
Oh Yes She Can

My daughter, Madison, was born sixteen years ago at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City. Etched forever in my mind is the encounter we had with one of the hospital’s geneticists who came to my hospital room to confirm Madison’s diagnosis of Down syndrome. After confirming that each of Madison’s cells had an extra chromosome 21, she matter-of-factly began to explain what that would mean in practical terms. “She will walk, of course, but I can’t tell you if she will read or write or even if you will be able to communicate with her.” She couldn’t have been less helpful and, for a professional, offered little optimism as to what life had in store for Madison. Part vendetta against the awful geneticist, part coping mechanism, I vowed that I would make it possible for Madison to reach her full potential, so that I could say, “Oh yes she can” anytime someone else told me what she might not be able to do. I’ve said, “Oh, yes she can” far more than I ever expected. Thanks to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and No Child Left Behind/Elementary and Secondary Education Act (NCLB/ESEA) and educators who clearly have believed in the premise of an equal, quality education for all children, Madison has benefitted from a regular education program since first grade. She currently is in the 9th grade and takes the standard 9th grade curriculum, supported by a special education teacher in each of her core classes who provides assistance to any and all students in the class who have an individualized education plan (IEP). She takes Virginia’s required health and drivers’ education classes without any support. I am so proud to say that not only can she read and write, but she made her high school’s A Honor Roll this past marking period. In addition, she passed drivers’ ed with an A and is now eligible to get her learner’s permit. Madison’s IQ falls in the mild to moderate range and, by its number, does not indicate that she would be able to reach the level of achievement that she has. I firmly believe that her success is due to our approach to raising Madison the same way we have our other two children – to have the highest expectations and to start from the premise that “she can.” Her success is also due to the teachers, school administrators and others who have had open minds and supported our aspirations to make sure that she is never held back by her diagnosis based on outdated or inaccurate perceptions. No one knows what anyone’s full potential is unless they are given the opportunity to reach it. I look forward to the time when “Oh yes they can” is the way all healthcare professionals, educators, legislators and society at large thinks about individuals with Down syndrome and their abilities.

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Comments (1,000 character limit)

Sadie Morgan Cross, United States, ME
4/15/2014 3:00:28 PM
Your story is so heart warming! I love that you believed in her so much right from the very minute she was born. I have a cousin who has Down Syndrome and all his life I've tried to send the message that if you belive you can do it you can.

Gloria Baker, United States, VA
3/22/2014 4:46:52 PM
I have a grandson who is 8 years old and it is my dream to see him be able to verbally communicate with me. I have always felt that he can accomplish anything he wants also. Madison is an inspiration, and great parents and schooling are the key.

liza cowan, United States, VT
5/13/2013 4:25:31 PM
Madison can and Madison does.

Phillip C. Essig, United States, VA
5/13/2013 2:00:25 PM
Se has always been my favorite story.

pema wangmo, Bhutan,
5/10/2013 2:33:18 AM
Its very inspiring to read Madison story and the positive attitude of her mother touched my heart. I ve a Down Syndrome in my class....the phrase "Oh yes she can..." gives me strength to move ahead and be a best teacher for my student Sonam........Thank you Madison's mom for being my inspiration....

Sally Walker, United States, VA
4/29/2013 3:32:28 PM
A wonderful story!

Nick Zeltvay, United States, VA
4/24/2013 9:06:54 AM
Madison is an example of the human spirit and resiliency that we all need to find within ourselves when the world, science or statistics tell us otherwise. Her courage and the faith of her family have once again shown us that “you should never count me out”. Regardless of what challenge or obstacle has been placed in your path, Madison teaches us that it is more important to believe in yourself more than believe what others do. My admiration goes to a wonderful young lady.

kelly goldsmith, United States, VA
4/23/2013 7:29:40 PM
Remarkable! This is an inspiration to me and, I would think to other parents. "Oh yes she can" is how we should all approach life; with a positive attitude, and striving to acheive our full potential. Kudos and congratulations Madison! I hope that this can also inspire healthcare professionals to be more compassionate and give hope rather than squashing it.

Gretchen Weinnig, United States, VA
4/22/2013 11:21:49 AM
What an incredible story of how the power of love and support can make great things happen.

Beth Pline, United States, VA
4/22/2013 8:59:56 AM
Madison Templeton is an amazing young woman who is going to go far.

Dan Casey, United States, VA
4/20/2013 11:22:57 AM
Congratulations to you, Kimberly, and to Madison. This is a great story that needs to be told far and wide.

Barbara VON CLAPAREDE-CROLA, United States, VA
4/20/2013 10:34:48 AM
Very touching, great story. Thanks, Kimberly, to open people's minds. Madison is a beauty inside out.

Bill Ames, United States, FL
4/20/2013 9:39:36 AM
The strength and commitment of the parents and the educators to overcome statistical perceptions is awesome; and the way it should be. Congratulations on your way to a brighter future for all.

Myra Terry, United States, NJ
4/20/2013 7:06:25 AM
Madison is a role model and an inspiration to others who have Down Syndrome!

Victoria McDade, United States, VA
4/19/2013 9:02:22 PM

shelley nolan, United States, VA
4/19/2013 5:55:04 PM
What a lucky break for this beautiful young lady to be born into a family who would not bend in their tenaciousness to do the very best for Madison. They all have had a hand in raising a confident, secure, bright young person. Good job, Essig/Templeton family!!!!!

Donna M Hamner, United States, VA
4/19/2013 5:06:09 PM
Madison's story is indeed inspiring and, I should think, encouraging to any parent whose child has a diagnosis of Down Syndrome, ADHD, dyslexia or any of the numerous other descriptions of learning difficulties abroad in our world today. We even wrongly decide many times that children whose native tongue is not ours, are limited. Shame on us! and thank-you, Madison!

Iris S Nahemow, United States, FL
4/19/2013 4:59:14 PM
Great story! You've done an amazing job.

Libba Wolfe, United States, VA
4/19/2013 4:49:56 PM
Way to go!

Heinke McDade, United States, VA
4/18/2013 3:47:30 PM
Madison was my neighbor when her family moved to Virginia from New York. What a sweet infant and now she has become a beautiful young lady.

Nina James, United States, NJ
4/18/2013 12:10:28 PM
I remember the day that Madison was born. I am so proud of all her accomplishments. She is truly a remarkable young lady.

Susan Adams, United States, VA
4/18/2013 9:58:47 AM
Great story. Great person. Great family. Great support. Wonderful!

Stephanie Phillips, United States, VA
4/18/2013 8:59:28 AM
Way to go, Madison!

David Nova, United States, VA
4/18/2013 8:44:03 AM
Wonderful story! Very inspiring. Yes they can!

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