The National Advocate for People with Down Syndrome Since 1979

National Down Syndrome Society
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New York New York 10012
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Being Kunal
Kunal with Family
Kunal with Family
Being Kunal

Kunal blindly flails at his alarm clock as the sound of its loud and unwelcome buzz jars him awake at 6:30 A.M. After hitting the snooze button a few times, he finally rolls out of bed in his apartment. He showers, brushes his teeth, gets dressed and heads for work. At six in the evening he returns home and watches CNN while enjoying dinner. He gets to bed by midnight so that he can repeat his routine again the next day. Although Kunal seems like a typical man in his mid-20s, that is hardly the case. What makes him different is the fact that he has Down syndrome. Despite his disability Kunal insists he leads a normal life. “I live in my own apartment, and I work at the Price Center and Triangle” he said. Located less than a mile from his apartment, the Price Center is an organization that assists young adults with special needs in finding employment. Through a program called “Worksmart,” people like Kunal are placed in local businesses based on their skills and interests. A subset of a company called Triangle, Ablevision is a media production facility that gives disabled adults an opportunity to produce and film original multimedia content. For Kunal, who has always had an affinity for performing and being in the limelight, participating in Ablevision is a dream come true. He is also a member of several other organizations such as the Special Olympics and the Best Buddies program. Kunal explains the experiences he has with other intellectually disabled individuals helps him cope with his condition. “Seeing other people with special needs makes me feel like I’m not alone,” he said. “I feel welcome and accepted at all their events.” A member of a big extended family, Kunal has made an indelible impression on his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. He shares a special bond with his thirteen-year-old cousin, Anisha, who he sees when home on weekends. “It's definitely a unique experience having an older cousin with Down syndrome,” said Anisha. “Early in my life, [Kunal’s disability] did not really affect me, but as I grew up I became increasingly aware of his limitations.” She admitted she worries about the psychological impact her growing up will have on Kunal, and his eventual realization that her intellectual development will continually and significantly eclipse his. Now a teenager, Anisha offered insight into the bittersweet reality of growing up. “I worry about the day I start driving or go to college,” she said. “I've always been his baby cousin. It’s hard to think that he has to watch his younger [family members] grow into adults and move on with their lives while he’s still tethered back.” Kunal has learned to accept his condition. “I know I have Down syndrome and nothing can change that,” he said. He is thankful for his family, who according to him, has been the most supportive and nonjudgmental group of people in his life. He draws on them for encouragement knowing they are the ultimate source of unconditional love.




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