Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Down Syndrome

Remember my friend AMAZING ABE?
Well his WHOLE family is amazing actually. While we were home Travis and I got to hear Abe's sister Jessica give a speech she has been working on for a completion! It was INCREDIBLE. It made me cry, smile, laugh and feel every other emotion possible! It was incredible live and I really wish I video taped it. But I got the next best thing. I asked her to send me the copy and got her permission to share it with you. It was so wonderful I hope you will take the time to read it. It will be worth your time I promise so come back when you have a little more time and read it!
Here is Jessie and Abe:

Every morning Abe wakes up and sits on the couch with his sister Emily. Dad has gone to work and the rest of family is still asleep. Emily has started her school so Abraham or, Abe as he likes to be called, sits on the couch quietly and wakes up. Usually he watches the window for the paper boy to come by and drop off the daily paper. As everyone starts getting up, Abe is getting ready. He makes his bed and gets dressed. Then it’s time for breakfast. Abe presses for eggs and toast. He would eat this every morning if he got to pick. The whole family sits down to pray. They trade off the responsibility and this particular morning its Abe’s turn. He says a little prayer, thanking the Lord for the food and the new day. Abe has the sports section of the paper right next to his bowl. He loves to look at the pictures. There is just something about the action recorded on the pages and the looks on the athletes faces that intrigues him. He has his favorite teams that he stands by whether they win or lose. As the day goes on Abe does school with mom and plays with Henry and Ruby, his younger siblings. What he loves to do is go downstairs, turn on a good CD and just zone out with the music for a while.

Abe seems like a perfectly normal child, doesn’t he? The truth is that Abe is different. He is special. Abraham was born 12 years ago with Down Syndrome.

Down Syndrome is not a disease. It is not an illness. People with this disability love all the things that we love and get frustrated with the same things that frustrate us. Down Syndrome is the name of a genetic alteration that occurs when an individual has three, rather than two, copies of the 21st chromosome. A website that brings information and resources for people with disabilities tells us that “The most common chromosomal condition, Down Syndrome occurs in one out of every 733 babies born in the U.S.” (Disaboom.com). yet this number is dwindling due to prenatal testing and abortion of the unborn baby. This is a tragedy because people with Down Syndrome are valuable and lead worth-while lives. Their lives are precious!

Foremost I will be talking about Prenatal Diagnoses and Abortion, then about the facts of Down Syndrome, and Lastly the value of these special people.

When a woman finds out she is pregnant she is usually overjoyed at the news of a new life growing inside her. Everything is fine and moving along great. In recent years Prenatal Diagnosing has become a regular part of prenatal care. In addition to an early ultrasound, women can now take a blood test between 15 and 22 weeks. While some feel pressured by doctors others take the test because they just want to know. The website of Eastside Maternal Fetal Medicine tells us that in this quad test, a doctor draws some of the mother’s blood and the lab checks to see if her levels of bio-chemical markers, proteins and hormones are normal or not. This specific test will tell you the percent or chance that your child has a neural tube defect, Down Syndrome, or Trisomy 18. If the test indicates a possible birth defect, the mother most likely will go and get more testing done such as an amniocentesis, or a high-resolution ultrasound (www.eastsidemfm.com). These tests can be fatal for the fetus but most mothers feel the need to know if their child has a problem. Very soon after the diagnosis of a fetus with Down Syndrome mothers are given the option to have an abortion. According to The National Down Syndrome Congress, “About half felt rushed or pressured to decide whether or not to continue the pregnancy.” (www.ndsc.com)

The National Down Syndrome Society tells us that “the main 2 reasons for Prenatal Testing are:
- To give the family time to prepare for a child with a disability.
- To give the parents the chance to abort a fetus with the diagnosed condition” (ndss.com)

The second reason (in all honesty, perhaps the first?) screenings exist is to allow people the abort an innocent child!! According to Wikipedia “Most doctors view a baby with a disability as an ‘infected Fetus‘and will follow up the test results with the question, ‘Would you like me to schedule the procedure?’ “(Wikipedia.org)
British Peer Lord Rix has stated that “alas the birth of a child with down syndrome is still considered by many to be an utter tragedy.” (en.thinkexist.com)
Is it because they want a perfect child? Is it because they are afraid of a child with a weakness or disability?

Life Site News.com tells us that “….More Down Syndrome babies are now killed than are allowed to be born.” (www.lifesitenews.com)

In actuality it’s 92%. According to ABC NEWS, “92 percent of women who find out their child has Down syndrome choose to terminate their pregnancy.” (abcnews.com)
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”- Matthew 19:14 (New International Version)

By aborting the pregnancy, that mother is taking one life that could have changed the world. Even if that child is disabled they can still have an impact on the people around them.

So, what is Down Syndrome? My family is involved in a music program where I play drums in the percussion section. I also have the privilege of teaching and coaching Abe. Everybody loves Abe. The director Mrs. Tina Riley had a son named David with Down Syndrome who passed away 10 years ago. In honor of David, she started the North County Homeschool Music Program. Every Thursday Mrs. Riley comes over and gives Abe a hug and asks how he is doing. One day we got a new song to practice and play together with a cymbal solo at the end. Abe got the part. The song started and when it came to the crescendo roll, all eyes were on Abe. He did it perfectly. Everyone cheered. Even some of the advanced drummers were impressed by his job well done. Later in the day when we performed for all the parents and it came to his Solo, Mrs. Riley smiled and nodded. Once again he did a fabulous job and beamed as everyone clapped. Treasured moments like these really impact me. I am so blessed to be able to be a part of this little boy’s life.

People affected by Down syndrome are all different. I have had the opportunity to babysit children with this disability. They love doing crafts and baking and eating cookies. But then again, what child doesn’t? They each have their own unique struggles as well. Some are severely disabled and require much assistance in everyday tasks while others can get up, take a shower, and get dressed without any help. They each have their quirks. Some absolutely loathe going to the dentist or refuse to get their hair cut. One little girl I know has her dental work done at Children’s Hospital where she is sedated before having her teeth cleaned. Just like us, none are the same.

Life Issues says “One of the truly gratifying developments in the last half-century has been the mainstreaming of people with Down syndrome. These pleasant and functional people now have an average life expectancy of 55 years. Only 2% are born with fatal heart defects, and less than 5% with severe mental retardation. Most now can lead semi or completely independent lives and enter the workforce in some type of supported employment. Others are competitively employed.” (Lifeissues.org) My Grandfather loves to see Sarah working at a Starbucks in Bellevue. She brightens his day with her smile and cheerful attitude as she sweeps and tidies tables.
Are people with Down syndrome valuable? Yes, ask anyone who has had the opportunity to spend time around these special people. They are happy and filled with joy. I believe that that is because the world is an innocent place through their eyes.
Ike Ditzenberger is a part of the Snohomish High school football team. Last September he was given the opportunity to go on field and play. His coach asked the opposing team to please let him get a few yards. Instead of giving him 5 yards they gave him the field. Ike scored his first touchdown. Having Ike on the field gave everyone a chance to be selfless and to give someone else a moment to shine. Ike’s story is now one of the ten most inspirational stories of 2010 according to Guide Post Magazine.

“Casey is always happy, smiling, easy-going, sweet, and very affectionate. He is constantly giving us hugs,” said Mrs. Julie Hernandez, mother of Casey, Age 9. Although Casey can’t verbally communicate with his family he is the joy in their household. Although he has not progressed at all since he was 24 months old, he is the apple of their eye. The way this mother talked about her son, I could tell he was the biggest blessing God has given them.

Jamie, a 12 year old girl has her love for life, her joy, and her trust to make her so special. She has a wonderful imagination and is always putting on fun shows for her family. She loves to act out parts in plays and sing and dance. Her mom, Mrs. Lori Schmieder, told me her family loves her energy and zest for life. She said that “she’s just Jamie and we love her the way she is.” These are all lovely people from my community and each has Down Syndrome.

But as I told you before, 92% of these people aren’t even given a chance.
2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (New International Version)

Approximately 5000 children are born with Down Syndrome every year in the United States. These are people, these are lives, and these are stories….NOT tragedies!
Once at a band workshop, all the students got in line to play bump basketball as a warm up and just to have fun. Everything was going great. Then it was Abe’s turn. We were all clapping, cheering, and encouraging him, except of course for the intense little girl who was playing against him. He took a shot and missed. Everybody groaned and then went right back to cheering his name as he fetched the ball. His next shot was nothing but net. We all shouted hooray and gave him high fives.

The real tragedy would have been if Abe had not been born. Abe’s life, like a crashing cymbal, has impacted so many people in a positive, uplifting way.
I believe that every being that has a heartbeat deserves a lifetime. Even if that specific being has a disability, their heart is still beating.
A true blessing from God, Abraham Lucas Cooper is my brother.

Original Oratory Source Citation Page
a. Wikipedia.com http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_syndrome accessed November 14, 2010
b. Eastside Maternal Fetal Medicine http://www.eastsidemfm.com/quad_screen.htm accessed November 9, 2010
c. American Pregnancy Association http://www.americanpregnancy.org/prenataltesting/quadscreen.html accessed November 1, 2010
d. Hub Pages http://hubpages.com/hub/Down-Syndrome--Prenatal-Testing-and-Changing-Perceptions-of-Down-Syndrome accessed January 8, 2011
e. New International Version Holy Bible 2 Corinthians 12:9
f. New International Version Holy Bible Matthew 19:14
g. Think exists Quotes http://en.thinkexist.com/ accessed November 3, 2010
h. Lifesitenews.com http://www.lifesitenews.com/ accessed November 3, 2010
i. Life Issues PART V INFANTICIDE & EUTHANASIA http://www.lifeissues.org/AbortionQandA/chapters/c25.pdf accessed January 8, 2011
j. The National Down Syndrome Congress http://www.ndsccenter.org/resources/documents/prenatal.php accessed January 10, 2011
k. Disaboom.com http://www.disaboom.com/parenting-and-family-general/abortion-rate-affected-by-down-syndrome-test accessed January 13, 2011
l. ABC News: Down Syndrome Births Are Down in U.S. By Susan Donaldson James November 2, 2009 http://abcnews.go.com/Health/w_ParentingResource/down-syndrome-births-drop-us-women-abort/story?id=8960803 accessed January 9, 2011


clarakreid said...

WOW!!! Good for her! This is an amazing speech! What a brave family!

Britt said...

That is wonderful Courtney! I am so glad I read this! Thanks so much for sharing! Truely an amazing speech!

Christie Bryant said...

Thanks so much for sharing this Courtney. What a beautiful speech!

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myrtle said...

Cool! what an inspiring speech indeed. . =)

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