The leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome.

National Down Syndrome Society
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Betty Lou's Books
Betty Lou's Books

Betty Lou was my aunt and only three years older than I am. We grew up together with her younger sister, also my aunt, who is two months older than me. Of course, we didn’t call them Aunt Betty Lou and Aunt Linda because they were more like cousins or sisters to us. Betty Lou loved us dearly as we loved her and gave the best hugs unless she got carried away and you couldn’t breathe. She was part of my almost everyday life and family. Grandma & Grandpa moved closer to us from Long Island so that we could be together. I saw them almost every day because they lived around the corner from my elementary school, however, Betty Lou did not attend our school. That just didn’t happen in the 1960s. Betty Lou could express herself but was very difficult to understand except by those closest to us. She loved cartoons and sat very close to the television until it was discovered that she couldn’t see very well and needed glasses. My father used to teach her to curse like a trooper and you could certainly figure out what she was saying when she was mad. Back in those days, my parents and her father (my grandpa) and practically everyone we knew smoked cigarettes. Betty Lou was never without her clothespins/cigarettes and pretended to smoke just like her big sister (my mother) and her favorite brother-in-law (my father) and of course her father. The best part though, was that Betty Lou wanted to read just like me. Of course no one in those days believed that children with Down syndrome could learn to read. She didn’t of course but she always carried around a dog-eared book that looked well read. She was and still is my inspiration for going into the field of special education and speech pathology. I believe today that with therapy and an appropriate education that she could have learned to speak intelligibly and to read her beloved books. She died much too soon at age 28 years and I will always miss her, but I do smile whenever I think of her. Someday Betty Lou, I will teach you to speak your mind (without cursing) and to read your dog-eared book.

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