Friday, July 29, 2011
Jason Kingsley and Mitchell Levitz - two young men with Down syndrome - were born in the early 70's, an era when doctors mainly suggested institutions as the main destination for babies with Down syndrome. Their parents disagreed and gave their sons opportunities to develop their potentials. Jason and Mitchell authored "Count Us In: Growing Up With Down Syndrome", which was published in 1994, when Jason was 20 and Mitchell, 23.
The book is in Jason and Mitchell's own words and is a compilation of transcripts of their unedited conversations, bringing out their personalities, wit, and humor. I found it fascinating to learn about their challenges, accomplishments, and general outlook in life through their eyes and minds. Topics included their friendship, their feelings and thoughts about having Down syndrome, their ideas of fun, girls, sex, marriage, children, beliefs, traditions, politics, their experience with loss and grief, their journey to becoming independent, and their dreams for their future.
Everyone - with or without Down syndrome - is different. Jason and Mitchell's opinions and perspectives may not be shared by other people with Down syndrome. In this regard, what a powerful statement this book makes in advocating the full potential of people with Down syndrome! It quashes the stereotypical views that people with Down syndrome "are always happy" or "are suffering". It presents people with Down syndrome as fully capable of learning and having their own opinions and dreams, just like everyone else.
Having Down syndrome may mean being on a slower path to a destination but in life, isn't how we get there more important than when we get there?
Have you read it? What did you think?