Right now my son is pulling out a package of hard salami, the cutting board and a knife as I begin to write this piece. Who would have thought the six pound, fourteen ounce baby who was born with Down syndrome would grow up to be so strong? My son Nick had severe low muscle tone. He did not walk nor eat solid foods until he was three and a half years old. We have come a long way since those early days eighteen years ago. Life threw him another curve ball several years later with the second diagnosis of autism. Communication stalled but not squandered as we found alternative methods besides sign language to give him a voice. He found power in pictures. The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) became his voice. By middle school he was formulating sentences of his wants. One day in sixth grade he put together a sentence strip. It started with the “I am sad icon” followed by “I need a hug icon” and finished it with the “picture of the very young and attractive teacher’s aide.” As he handed the strip to the support teacher he began to blink his eyes and make fake tears. The boy’s got game! Nick is now a senior in high school. We have never stopped trying to find new ways to help him thrive and be the best Nick he can be. Currently, he has a functional curriculum and three jobs in the community. He works at Re-Store-Habitat for Humanity, Tabor Hills Residence facility and the Adopt Animal Shelter. He is ambitious when doing his chores around the house and is very proud of his work. Big Guy loves music, swimming, movies, Taco Bell and dancing. At last year’s Peer Partner's dance he had two dates. Score Nick! Oh and he has a passion for pulling fire alarms - 25 of them since 3rd grade. He is silly, engaging, caring, loving and mischievousness all wrapped up together like a delicious burrito… yum yum bueno! He has taught me how to be more patient, compassionate and not to sweat the small stuff. He also gave me tremendous strength to be his advocate. Big Guy rocks that extra chromosome and more. For more about Nick’s world check out my website at www.nickspecialneeds.wordpress.com.