Tuesday, March 31, 2009
He's the one that did the wonderful picture of Ruby on my sidebar and bottom of my blog.
By Jessie Pounds Tuesday, March 31, 2009
They'd already held their son in middle school an extra year for fear that the transition to a bigger school with bigger kids might overwhelm him. Wyatt, a pink-cheeked 16-year-old, has Down syndrome, doesn't talk save a few words when pressed, and is shorter than most of his schoolmates.
At best, they hoped their son would be content at his new school. At worst, they feared he might lose ground.
What they did not anticipate was joy.
"You can barely stop the car in time for him to jump out and go to school," Tony Wyatt said, explaining that his son now has a more active social life than he did back when he was in high school. "He's basically got rock star status over at Fulton."
At the root of Wyatt's transformation is a group of Fulton students known as peer tutors.
They are, on one level, just students who serve as aides in Comprehensive Development Classes.
At Fulton though, the role of peer tutor has taken on a certain level of prestige and the peer tutors have established a tradition of also befriending the special-needs students and hanging out with them outside of school.
According to Emily McSpadden, Wyatt's CDC-Activity class teacher, this leads to a welcoming school culture. When Wyatt walks through the halls, students from every grade level call out his name or wave hello.
"(The peer tutors) accept my kids and their acceptance spreads to the school," McSpadden said. "Because they love him and take him for who he is, so does everybody else."
On a recent Friday, McSpadden organized a lunch-making party of sorts for her students. The five peer tutors paired with students to take on different tasks: making grilled cheese sandwiches, stirring tomato soup and baking cupcakes.
Sarah Wheeler, a senior, led Wyatt in setting the table for the class.
She is one of the students who likes to take Wyatt out for activities, like bowling or a Valentine's Day dinner. Though Wheeler, who wants to become a special education teacher, could likely have accomplished the task in a few minutes, she went step by step with Wyatt, requesting that he place a plate here or put down a napkin there.
For all the things Wheeler tries to teach the students in the class, she's learned a lot from them, too. In particular, the importance of individuality.
As a freshman, she felt compelled to hide aspects of herself, like being religious, because she was concerned about what other people might think. As she began to get to know the special needs students, she saw that all of them seemed to express their personalities and interests without concern about what others might think.
So Wheeler decided she would try being herself, too.
"Now, that's who I am, because if they don't see me, they just see the person trying to please everyone," she said.
In Wyatt's case, one major area of interest is sports. Both his parents went to Fulton High School, but only attended games once in a blue moon since then. Now, they bring their son to almost every game, because the peer tutors and their friends look for Wyatt and call him over to hang out with them.
During football season he joined the "rowdies," a group that paint their bare torsos to spell out phrases like "Go Falcons!" Wyatt is always the exclamation point.
Even more than football, he loves basketball. Though he has a hard time spitting out the word, to signal his excitement about an upcoming game, he mimics shooting a basket. Wyatt often plays in the gym with the two peer tutors on the school basketball team, juniors Xavier "Buddy" Bridges and Antonio Barfield.
Wyatt and his parents spent much of their spring break attending the state high school basketball tournament in Murfreesboro.
When Fulton won the game, the high schoolers went wild, Wyatt with them.
Together, he and his friends started jumping up and down, hi-fiving and hugging. Even Bridges and Barfield began pushing their way up toward Wyatt to share the moment with him.
Across the arena, Tony and Renee Wyatt sat and watched the whole celebration unfold, tears running down their faces that had nothing to do with the game.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
MARK REIS, THE GAZETTE
Sarah Middlebrook, 9, showed off a container full of things beginning with the letter O during class Monday. Teacher Jennifer Nerren is seen in the background.
Other Articles in this Category
PROFILE: Sarah Middlebrook, 9
March 23, 2009 - 9:26 PM
Sarah Middlebrook doesn't speak much. But those who know her say that when Sarah's in the room, her actions and personality speak for themselves.
Sarah has Down syndrome. Although the condition causes cognitive delays, and although Sarah has had to endure multiple abdominal surgeries since she was born nine years ago, the third-grader at Odyssey Elementary is "always the cheerful helper," says Jennifer Nerren, a teacher in the Severe Needs room at Odyssey.
"Sarah is a dedicated and hard worker at school," writes Nerren in her nomination of Sarah as a Great Kid. "She puts forth a lot of effort and enjoys spending time with her teachers. Sarah has made a lot of gains academically this year and has made us very proud!"
Nerren and Sarah's mother, Michelle Middlebrook, describe Sarah as accepting and kind.
"She is very nonjudgmental," Sarah's mom says. "I mean she's completely innocent; she is incapable of telling a lie or being deceptive."
Sarah seems to have a talent for teaching her fellow students and helping them out any way she can, Nerren says. She also loves to help out with housework at home, her mom says.
"She's loving and tenderhearted and innocent, and she'll be that way her whole life," Middlebrook says.
To be sure, raising a child with Down syndrome poses unique challenges.
"She just has to be watched 24 hours a day," her mom explains.
Middlebrook says the most difficult part of raising a child with Down syndrome is communicating. "She doesn't really speak very much, and she does minimal signing."
Everyone in the family knows some sign language. And Sarah has an electronic communication device, which Middlebrook describes as a sort of minicomputer with pictures of, say, food, that Sarah can push to let others know what she wants to eat. While Middlebrook says the device helps, there's no surefire way of knowing exactly what's on Sarah's mind all the time.
But Sarah finds other ways to communicate.
There's a student in her class who is in a wheelchair and has many medical needs, Nerren, Sarah's teacher, explains.
"Sarah has no hesitation sitting by her, talking to her, holding her hand, and being a true friend to the other little girl," Nerren says.
Many children don't show Sarah the same openness and kindness that she shows others, her mom says, but there are exceptions.
"There's one neighborhood brother and sister that live across the street that always help Sarah and try to play with her," Middlebrook says, "when other kids don't even acknowledge that she's in the room really."
Down syndrome occurs when a person has three copies of the 21st chromosome, according to the National Down Syndrome Society. Most people have two copies. The extra genetic material changes development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome such as small stature, an upward slant in the eyes and low muscle tone, according to NDSS.
Sarah's mom describes an ability she says Sarah seems to possess that most people don't: to tap into "the spiritual realm."
"When she was, I think, about 4 or 5, we were at our old house, and she kept looking out the window smiling and waving, and we're like, ‘What do you see, what do you see?'" Middlebrook says. "She just kept looking up and said, ‘Bye.' We just think she saw her angel or something."
"We've seen other times that she can see things that we can't see," Sarah's mom continued. "She'll walk into a room, a grocery store, wherever we're at, and we know, depending on her countenance, whether things are going to be good or bad. She can really see things, I think, in the spiritual realm."
Sarah and her family attend New Life Church, where a signer conveys worship songs in sign language, and Sarah signs along, her mom says.
And Sarah clearly earns high marks with her teacher. "She is truly a special child and a gift to my classroom," Nerren says.
MORE ABOUT SARAH:
Favorite toy Baby, her doll that she takes everywhere."We pray as a family before my husband (Tim Middlebrook) leaves for work, and she has my husband hold one hand of the baby, and she'll hold the other," Sarah's mom says.
Siblings Two brothers; one sister
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Expectant parents' love undimmed by Down syndrome in their unborn child
For a list of local and national resources for families who have a child or are expecting a child with Down syndrome visit www.dsani.org/publications.html or contact the Down Syndrome Association of Northeast Indiana via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 471-9964.
By Jennifer L. Boen email@example.com
“A baby changes everything,” so a Johnson & Johnson baby products commercial says. While that truth is experienced by everyone with a new baby, for Mike and Jenny Cordray of Columbia City, their baby, not yet born, has changed them in so many ways already.In just a few days, they will for the first time welcome a son or daughter into their lives. The Cordrays by choice do not know the baby’s sex, but other important things they do know: the baby has Down syndrome; he or she has a heart defect called atrioventricular (AV) canal, in which a large hole exists in the wall separating the two upper and two lower chambers; and, most important, they already love this baby.Getting news about both a chromosomal abnormality and a serious medical problem was a lot to handle, but the Cordrays are grateful for extensive resources available today. Organizations such as the Down Syndrome Association of Northeast Indiana (DSANI), started just nine years ago, help them prepare for their baby. When they recently attended a DSANI play group, “They welcomed us like family,” said Mike Cordray, 31, an engineer and project manager with DePuy Orthopaedics in Warsaw.“We’re already in the club,” said Jenny Cordray, whose first ultrasound at 19 weeks showed a problem with the baby’s heart. They were told it was likely the most common defect that self-corrects or is easily repaired surgically.Then Jenny’s “quad screen” blood tests revealed a strong possibility of a chromosomal abnormality, probably Down syndrome. Also called trisomy 21, Down syndrome occurs when an extra copy of the 21st chromosome is present rather than the normal two copies. The condition occurs in one out of every 800 births.Additional tests at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis confirmed the more serious AV canal defect. Jenny recalled hearing the news: “I almost passed out. We weren’t expecting that worse news.” Doctors told them in light of the heart problems, the baby could have trisomy 18, caused by three copies of the 18th chromosome. It is incompatible with life. An amniocentesis was recommended.“The doctor said I was getting to the stage of pregnancy when it was going to be too late to terminate in Indiana, and I might have to go somewhere else. But I was starting to feel movement. I was already bonding with this baby,” said Jenny Cordray, a sales rep for Sanofi Aventis pharmaceuticals. It was a difficult spot. By their faith and values, the couple places great importance on the sanctity of life.“A lot of tears and sorrow” were shared that weekend between learning about the heart defect and the amniocentesis. “At that point, we were thinking Down syndrome was the best-case scenario,” Jenny Cordray said. About a week after the amniocentesis, the geneticist called. The worst-case scenario was ruled out.“We said, ‘Hey, we can handle that. That’s not so bad,’” Mike Cordray said of learning it was Down syndrome. Yet such news is never joyous. “You mourn. There’s a grieving process. That’s OK. You’re going to have negative thoughts. Then you do research and find out all you can – and move on. I think it’s through the tough times that you get stronger, get closer to your faith.”With news your child has abnormalities, “certain expectations you have to squash,” Jenny Cordray said. “Then you start over with a clean slate.”The couple hangs on to every bit of good news: Surgery to repair the AV canal defect has a more than 90 percent success rate; and for some reason with this particular heart defect, babies with Down syndrome fare better than babies without the disorder. How soon the baby will require surgery remains unknown.“When I’ve told people the baby has Down syndrome, they often say, ‘I’m so sorry.’ I tell them, ‘Don’t be sorry.’ ” Jenny Cordray said. “I feel like we’ve been chosen for this child. This child is a gift from God. I’m looking forward to meeting the next mom that gets this news.”
Monday, March 23, 2009
by Julie Mack Kalamazoo Gazette
Sunday March 22, 2009, 1:57 PM
She's the adoring younger sister who basks in his reflected glory.
But the story of Devin and Miya Oliver doesn't stop there.
Miya has Down syndrome, which causes serious mental impairments. Even more than Devin's stardom, Miya's disability defines the sibling relationship.
It makes it more complicated. It also makes it more rich.
Neither are ordinary teenagers, and each has benefited from the other. Being Devin's sister puts 13-year-old Miya in the inner circle of the high school social network.
Being Miya's brother gives Devin a sense of empathy and compassion unusual for a 16-year-old whose considerable talents could easily lead to arrogance.
That's especially true this year, which has been a spectacular season for K-Central basketball. After losing its opener, Central has won 22 games straight and is currently ranked No. 2 in the state behind Detroit Pershing High School.
K-Central took the district title a week ago and the regional title on Wednesday, a game in which Devin was the team's high scorer. On Tuesday, K-Central plays in the state quarterfinals against Rockford. If Central goes on to win the state basketball championship, it will be the school's first since 1951.
Miya goes to all the games and can be Central's most exuberant fan. At times, her parents have had to stop her from yelling at the referees or dancing on the court in the midst of a game. Last week as the Central team was being honored as the district champs, Miya stood nearby and performed a flying jumping jack as each player was introduced.
As a child who lives in the moment, she doesn't understand the importance of the state tournament. But she is clearly captivated by the pageantry. After Wednesday's win, she squealed in excitement when the regional trophy was brought out. "Look, Dad, a trophy!" she said. "There's a trophy!"
Then she ran down the bleachers and onto the court to kiss and hug her brother.
A year or two ago, Devin was embarrassed at times by Miya's uninhibited enthusiasm at his games, said their mother, Amy Oliver.
"He's more confident now," Amy Oliver said. "He knows that she is really and truly rooting for him."
Devin agreed, calling his sister his "No. 1 fan."
But more than that, he said, "She's my best friend."
'A very sweet kid'Devin is the kind of kid who makes college recruiters take notice.
A junior who goes by the nickname of D-Mo, he's a wiry 6 feet 5 inches tall and is still growing. On the basketball court, he's a leader with talent. In the classroom, he gets top grades in tough classes.
He has other things going for him, too. A cheerful, open personality that's made him popular among peers since elementary school. A tight-knit family headed by attentive, supportive parents -- in fact, Amy and Kelvin Oliver met while both were playing basketball at Western Michigan University in the early 1980s. Amy now heads the Math and Science Center operated by the Allegan Regional Educational Service Agency, and Kelvin is a decorated Kalamazoo public safety officer.
Miya is Devin's only sibling, and when they were younger, he said, he was sometimes bothered by her disability. Part of it was worrying what other people would think. Part of it was worrying when other people would treat her badly.
But now, he said, he sees Miya as "a blessing," and views her as a mainstay in his life."When's something wrong, I can talk to her," he said, "Even though she has Down syndrome, she's real easy to talk to."
He also said that being Miya's brother has given him a different outlook on life. He knows the hurt caused by teasing or being excluded. He's also learned that life is not always fair and that success has many definitions.
Chris Bullmer, Devin's AP English teacher, who has a developmentally disabled brother himself, said he sees how Devin's personality has been shaped by his relationship with his sister.
"Devin has this very loving nature and he's extremely outgoing and he knows not to be judgmental -- all things that come out of having a special-needs sibling," Bullmer said. "He's just a very sweet kid."
Bullmer said he recently saw Devin and Miya together, and "it was so cool to see the interaction between them. You could tell how close and loving they are."
Amy Oliver said the lessons that Devin has gained from being Miya's brother are especially valuable now that his successes are garnering so much attention. Among the colleges that have contacted him are University of Michigan and Stanford.
"It helps him stay humble, stay on an even keel," Amy Oliver said. "It makes him better able to handle this newfound fame, because he knows how to put things in perspective."
It's not just Devin who has been influenced by Miya, Amy Oliver adds.
"Devin has all these friends, all these basketball players who would never be exposed to a special-needs child if it wasn't for their friendship with Devin," she said. "There's a whole group of friends who've been touched by Miya. It's the ultimate experience in inclusion."
'A very special person'But Miya is much, much more than just an object lesson in overcoming obstacles, say the people who know her.
"The fact that Devin is her brother and the sense that he has about her is awesome," Kalamazoo Central Principal Von Washington Jr. said. "But she doesn't need him to set her apart.
"She's an active, wonderful young lady. Even if you didn't know her, just seeing how passionate she is about basketball and her brother makes you realize that you're dealing with a very special person."
Still, Devin's success comes at an opportune time for Miya.
Now an eighth-grader at Hillside Middle School, she'll be in high school next year -- which can be a tricky transition for any kid, but especially for those with special needs.
Yet through Devin and going to basketball games, Miya has become a familiar face in the high school community.
"There are lots and lots of people who know her and speak to her by name," Amy Oliver said. "It's going to make her transition to Central so much easier."
It's not just a matter of people reaching out to Miya, but also how Miya has initiated friendships among Devin's teammates and friends. "She's kind of established herself," Devin said.
Besides expanding her social network, Miya's connection to K-Central hoops has helped her in a more basic way: It's improved her own game.
She plays the sport through Special Olympics and is so accomplished that she recently moved to a team for adults.
"She has a very good shot," Amy Oliver said. "She's learned a lot from going to Devin's games."
Just as Miya cheers on her brother, Devin recently went to Miya's Special Olympics tournament, and his eyes light up as he describes it.
"She did real well," he said. "Basketball is a passion we share."
The upside of Down syndrome
Parents of Down syndrome children want others to know "the positives so outweigh the negatives"
By Shannon Mullen • STAFF WRITER • March 22, 2009
"Ninety-nine percent of the time, he's happy," said his mother, Joyce Wright, 52, of Holmdel.
Conor's life is a far cry from the bleak existence many expectant and new parents hear about from doctors when Down is diagnosed. Now, with support from a new federal law, advocates for those with Down hope to better inform medical professionals and parents about the realities of the genetic condition, which affects more than 400,000 children and adults in the United States.
Their campaign comes at what some see as a crossroads moment for Down.
Some 5,000 children are born with Down in the United States every year, but new screening guidelines and the advent of a new era in prenatal genetic testing could reduce that number dramatically. As a result, Down could become increasingly rare, some advocates say.
Already, about 90 percent of expectant parents who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to terminate the pregnancy, studies show.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Yes,I have to accept it and live with it and try and improve Ruby's life any way I can but I would change it for her if I could.
Lisa,Chrystal I'm with you.
I want to say that I respect all of you ladies that feel differently on this subject.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
You Are a Strawberry
You are friendly, outgoing, and well liked by many people.
You are popular, but there's nothing you ordinary or average about you.
You a very interesting person, and you have many facets to your personality.
Sometimes you feel very conflicted. Your different sides of your personality pull at you.
You are a very sensual and passionate person. You are fiery... you can't help it.
In general, you keep your passionate side under wraps. You are only wild in private.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
http://www.katu.com/sports/40804527.html. I think it's wonderful how the community gave so much support in this tragedy.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Monday, March 2, 2009
Deborah at SunflowerMom has awarded me the Premios Dardos blog award. This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his or her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day.
17)What States and Countries have you visited as an adult?New Mexico on an anniversary,Georgia to visit family(My Mom is from there),Arkansas,Oklahoma,California to visit my brother.