When Jack was new to us and we began exploring the world of the child with Down Syndrome, the future seemed a far off, distant place. We were worrying about feedings, about growth charts and vitamin therapies, sleeping patterns, home health workers and such, so it was quite an eye opener when I met a friend of a friend who told me all about her adult son with Down Syndrome. This young man, whose photo sat proudly on his mother’s desk, lived independently. He drove himself to college every day and was, by all accounts, a very successful adult. I was, to put it mildly, gobsmacked.
I had been very uninformed about adults with Downs and had no idea that they could learn to drive or live alone, and going to college was just something that had never crossed my mind. It was a wonderful education and a boost to us to learn of all Jack’s potential for a change. Initially it had been all about every thing he couldn’t do, it was lovely to meet someone who showed us just what he was capable of. In the years since, I have learned still more about Jack’s future and frankly, it’s pretty bright.
A book I have mentioned before, Steps to Independence, lays out simple ways to encourage a child to become independent and also goes on to talk about the future when he may live alone and how, as a parent, you can enable that. At this point in Jack’s life, he is ten and mad about Mario Kart Wii, I can not imagine him learning to drive! However the idea that maybe he could is a thrilling one to consider. I’m sure when my (now 13 year old) daughter learns to drive I will be worried about her the entire time she is out, I can only wonder how fraught I would be with Jack on the streets! You should SEE him on that Wii game!
Young adults with Down Syndrome have so many more options open to them today than they did in even the recent past. Many of them will have a job, maybe go to college, leave home and perhaps marry. I watched a short movie recently about a young man, Tim, who works in his “own” restaurant owned by his family. He is thrilled to go to work every day at Tim’s Place, we should all be so lucky. Jack really loves to cook too and after watching the movie I asked him if he would like to cook at a restaurant like that and he said “No, I want to cook at home for you!” Personally I can’t imagine a day when Jack will leave home and move out on his own, as I said, he’s only 10 and I have a few years to go before I have to worry about it, but perhaps sooner rather than later that day will arrive and he will feel the need to test his wings. We’ll see.
I have always said that the one thing I DO want for Jack is for him to find someone to love him. I hope he falls in love one day and that love is reciprocated. He has such a lot of love to give and the thought that he may go through life lonely and alone is the one thing that truly worries and upsets me. Hopefully if I expose him to as many social opportunities as possible he may find himself a young lady one day and if nothing else he may make some good friends. After all, happiness is surely all we want for all of our children, isn’t it.