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

National Down Syndrome Society
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New York New York 10017
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Luke & Laughter
Luke Smiling at Me
Luke Smiling at Me
Luke & Laughter

My first encounter with normalcy since my husband and I heard the unexpected diagnosis of Down syndrome from my son's doctor was Luke's sweet smile. Instead of the bleak scenario predicted, I discovered a child whose wisdom and grace colorfully filled my days with singing and laughter, two activities I believed I would never truly partake of again. Our son was born in August of 1991 - at first, a perfect baby with a perfect Apgar score - until, five hours later, something went terribly wrong. While we knew that Luke had somehow lost the ability to breathe on his own, neither my husband nor myself were prepared to hear the ultimate diagnosis. Nor were we prepared to hear a series of abnormal responses from the series of professionals we encountered, from the geneticist who gently asked if we intended to give our son up for adoption, on through to the neurologist, who suggested we place him in a "better-equipped environment" before we had grown too attached to him. No one bothered to ask his name, and no one took the time to recognize that we had already fallen in love with Luke from the moment we had seen his beautiful face. Determined to provide Luke with every opportunity, we enrolled him at a pre-school for special needs children when he was six weeks old. Doing so made me a stronger advocate for my child. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of such a place in the life of a parent... the flow of information, the interaction with other parents, and their positive support bring a new agenda into your life. I used to be very impatient. My life was tied up in deadlines and competitions. Now, because I watched Luke create his own timeline, defying the odds by finally walking at the age of 5, and struggling to communicate via an elaborate pictorial system at the age of 6, I came to understand the beauty of taking things in slow motion. We liked to play on the swings for hours, and listened to all kinds of music, from Barney to Bach, all day long. Instead of weakening me, those new perceptions strengthened me. I'm inevitably reminded of the children's story of the bear that lost her baby. Her despondence was life threatening until she was given a teddy bear. How she loved him! She sang and danced for him well past her prime because, you see, her baby never aged. And so, she never felt her age and continued to be youthful until well into her old age. Luke has kept me younger, not because he does not grow up, but because he strives heroically to mature. He beckons me to run after him, dance with him, sing to him, read to him, and, finally, to respect him for whom he is, and who he will become. Luke is now almost 20, a handsome boy who cherishes his newfound independence, but who has never lost his ability to wonder.

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Comments (1,000 character limit)

Rita Dichtel, United States, CA
5/4/2011 2:02:47 AM
thank you for the beautiful and articulate sharing . . . . so helpful for parents of child with Down Syndrome.

Allen Goldman, United States, MA
4/4/2011 8:17:11 AM
beautifully written by a terrific mom!

Mary Voytus, United States, NJ
4/3/2011 1:59:16 PM
What a wonderful description of your committed motherhood. Unfortunately the professionals often miss the human connection and get caught up in the medical jargon and treatment options. I am sure Luke has reached his potential because of the love he has

ANDY WANG, United States, NY
3/27/2011 1:19:49 PM

jacqueline albarella, United States, NJ
3/25/2011 4:48:32 PM
Should be enough to make anyone stop and smell the roses...beautifully written.

Rachelle Bouchard Hendele, United States, IL
3/24/2011 1:49:53 PM
Linda: You have written a sincerely profound and humbling story that I will keep with me always. Thank you, Rachelle

Scott Wells, United States, NY
3/23/2011 4:52:27 PM
"Linda, You are an inspiration to all parents, not just those with special needs children. What a beautiful write up. ...Scott"

ENZO & ANNA FILIPPI, United States, NY
3/23/2011 12:57:12 PM
The love and care you have shown Luke has been told by your life. You David and Gabriel have lived your love for Luke. The sacrifices and love you have shared are an example of what can be done to bless the life of a precious child. Luke is truly special.

Martina Keane, United States, NY
3/22/2011 1:01:29 PM
Linda, this heartfelt story really speaks to me and it portrays the depth of your abiding love for Luke. It is touching to see how hard you work to improve the quality of his life and celebrate the special moments and small victories along the way.

Diane Khan, United States, NY
3/21/2011 7:35:22 PM
Beautifully written Linda! Also having a son with Down Syndrome, your story really touched my heart. You have written a wonderful article. I really enjoyed it.

Catherine Gagliano, United States, NY
3/21/2011 6:44:00 PM
Wonderful touching article. Being a special needs parent I think publishing this article is very touching. I enjoyed reading it! Luke is very fortunate to have such loving and wonderful parents. With love, patience, kindness, empathy and acceptance all

Deborah Aquilino, United States, NY
3/21/2011 6:20:13 PM
That was the most beautiful story I have ever read...Luke has taught you so much about life and you have taught him, too. You taught him that love conquers all. You are all a very special family!

Joyce Levenson, United States, NY
3/21/2011 4:19:26 PM
Your love gushes with every word. I understand how you feel. Luke is lucky to have such wonderful parents.

janet paolucci, United States, NY
3/21/2011 4:17:08 PM
"what a beautiful outlook on life.. luke is very special; linda & david never gave up on him. love triumphs."

Nancy Finnegan, United States, NY
3/21/2011 3:52:05 PM
Linda, Your love for your son shines through and Luke is blessed with wonderful, caring parents. Nancy

Kelly Krause, United States, CA
3/21/2011 3:41:58 PM
A beautiful story, Linda... It is love, support and encouragement like yours that exemplifies the very best of parenting.

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