Friday, August 14, 2009
"What is normal? Why label me at all? I am not perfect. Are you?"
Written by Bryan Lambke, a 23-year old (when the book was published in 2006) who has Down syndrome, and his father, Tom Lambke, who is one of his greatest advocates. Tom Lambke also authored Spirit, Courage and Resolve...a Special Olympics Athlete's Road to Gold. That's on my list of books I'd like to read.
The book has an eye-opening introduction written by Cheryl Rogers-Barnett, daughter of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Her sister, Robin Elizabeth was born in 1950, when "Mongoloid" was an accepted term, but she didn't make it past her 2nd birthday due to health problems. I say it's eye-opening because it is a glimpse into what it was truly like for babies born in the 1950's told by someone who experienced it first-hand. She quotes doctors saying "Don't take her home, she will never recognize you, she will never live past her 20th birthday, don't get attached, getting attached will just break your heart."
I am immensely grateful I did not hear those crushing words when Matthew was born. There still is a lot of work to be done as far as spreading awareness of Down syndrome, but it seems like it's a better world today for individuals with Down syndrome (in the US, not sure about other countries) than it was in 1950.
The authors' photos and words speak volumes of how we are more alike than different. Bryan's poignant narration of how he lives his life highlights the fact that despite outward differences, we all enjoy having friends, experience a range of emotions, and basically can have the same chances and choices in life, whether one has Down syndrome or not.
Not a children's book, but I think kids in high school and older would benefit from reading this. The book also has a few condensed sections of key facts about Down syndrome and language guidelines on how to correctly refer to someone who has Down syndrome. Overall, it delivers just the right dose of information to those who know nothing or very little about Down syndrome.
Have you read it? What do you think?
Possibly related post:
Remember You're Unique, Just Like Everyone Else