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

National Down Syndrome Society
8 E 41st Street, 8th Floor
New York New York 10017
[email protected] 

The Monkey King
The Monkey King

One summer evening, at the age of 4 years and 9 months, Jaden Temple Savill climbed atop the play structure in our community park in Tustin, CA. He stood facing the "fire-fighter's sliding pole" and stared ahead. Something about his expression seemed different from usual. And then it happened. Jaden reached forward and seized the pole with one hand and then the other. I waited for his usual "Help me!", but it didn't come. Before I knew it, he had stretched out one leg and then the other, and was suspended on the pole eight feet above the ground. A moment later, he slowly and deliberately lowered himself down the pole, hand by hand, foot by foot, until he reached the ground. Jaden looked up at me with a big smile. I smiled back, temporarily lost for words. Finally I said "Great job, Jaden!", and we hi-fived. My words seemed a very inadequate response to what had just taken place. This was way more than a great job. I had the feeling that I had just witnessed the unfolding of a giant evolutionary leap like witnessing the first caterpillar climb out of its cocoon, spread out its wings and take to the air. It felt as if another line had just been added to the miraculous 14 billion-year story of the Universe. While I was busy contemplating God and evolution, Jaden hurried back up the steps of the play structure to re-test his new-found wings. Sure enough, he precisely repeated his unassisted climb down the pole. Jaden displayed a talent for climbing and hanging from heights at a very early age. My ineptitude for home improvement meant that I never got round to installing a safety gate at the top and bottom of our staircase. So from the moment Jaden started crawling at 10 months of age, he was clambering up and down the stairs. This may not have been good for his mother's heart, but it was great for the development of Jaden's strength, coordination, spatial planning, problem solving, self-confidence and courage! When we enrolled Jaden in a gym class at the age of 2 years and 9 months, the other 12 children were all typical kids. Jaden may have lagged behind them at jumping, hopping and the balance beam, but he was the champion of the monkey bar. Not only could he hang from the bar for 10 seconds longer than the next best child, but he also quickly mastered the art of raising his feet up to the bar and hanging upside down. We've now enrolled Jaden in Karate For All in the hope that he'll keep at least one foot on the ground! He loves karate and loves his teacher Sensei Wayne Centra. A few days before his 5th birthday, Jaden successfully completed his first karate test, and now proudly boasts a black stripe on his white belt. Watch this space for Karate black-belt, circus acrobat, Olympic gymnast, daredevil fire-fighter Jaden!

Vote for your favorite story! Each month, the two stories with the most votes will be featured in the NDSS E-Newsletter.*


Your email address will be used for voter tracking only, and will not be used for future NDSS emails.
Click here to become a fan on Facebook.
Click here to follow us on Twitter.

*Votes will be reset at the end of each month.

Full Name
Comments (1,000 character limit)

Nancy Chia, United States, NC
8/30/2012 10:43:31 PM
Great story! I'd enjoy reading further adventures of the Monkey King!!

  • Buddy Walk
  • NDSS Yourway
  • NDSS DS-Ambassadors