The National Advocate for People with Down Syndrome Since 1979

National Down Syndrome Society
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Ronan: Up the Down's Path
Ronan: Up the Down's Path

Ronan is my first born and my only son. It wasn't a complete surprise when I found out he had Down syndrome a few hours after he was born. When the nurse handed him to me upon his birth, a little voice whispered "he has Down syndrome" even though nothing in his face gave any suspicion of this diagnosis. I had been working with people with developmental disabilities for over 12 years at that time, and I knew the features of Down syndrome very well. Perhaps the voice was my subconscious or even a guardian angel. Whatever the case, here was my baby; my beautiful, innocent little lamb with "a little extra" on his 21st pair of chromosomes. No previous understanding of the condition or experience working with persons with Down syndrome can prepare a parent for the shock of finding that her own child has a disability. Sometimes, previous knowledge and experience cause more distress. As someone who had been working in a social services capacity, I had seen it all; the good and the bad. My one consolation was that he was healthy, and services were available to him from birth - unlike the many adults I'd worked with who did not have the benefits of infant stimulation and parent guidance by early intervention specialists. It's 13 years later, and my baby is now growing into a young man with typical teenage feelings (and hormones). He is fully included in his junior high school where he has many aides and peer buddies. Like most teens, his emotions fluctuate, and his limited communication skills and delayed responses are a source of frustration for him. We are in the midst of working on helping him to spontaneously use his words so that his adult life will be filled with friends and happiness instead of loneliness and fear - the greatest concerns of any aging parent. I continue as a social worker for individuals with developmental disabilities and am made aware daily of what options and issues my son will have to face as he grows up, as well as the choices I might also have to make as I grow with him. Overall, Ronan is an incredible young man. Like anyone, he struggles to do that for which he was born - whatever that mission may be. He has endured a few sorrows in his life already (his best friend/papa's passing, his parents' divorce), which have definitely contributed to some of his setbacks. However, his deeper understanding of his own life's troubles has become a guide for those of us who are a part of that life. Through his limitations, we have learned about patience and to appreciate the little things that the average person might take for granted (i.e. asking a simple question). As I continue to walk with him up this Down's path, I am humbled by this singular honor of calling Ronan my son.




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