From Josh's perspective, I think of family, friends, neighbors, school, work and social activities. From my perspective, I think about relationships that I have developed because my son has Down syndrome. If it weren't for Josh AND Down syndrome, I never would have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people! The thought of that just makes me sad so I'm thankful our path has lead us here! This is exactly where we're meant to be!
I tend to breakdown our life with Josh's by categories, so I'll do it again here. I think it's easier for my brain to process where we've been if I break things into segments. The one thing that remains CONSTANT, no matter what "category" we're living in, everyone seems to fall in love with Josh!
I will start by saying that I can instantly make a connection with another family who has a loved one with Down syndrome. I have no problem approaching another family, no matter where we are. If a connection is made great, if not, no problem, but I am drawn in to at least say hello. My husband, Tom, likes to call this a "subculture" that we belong to. We have made some very, very good friends by just approaching someone to say hi. great connections have been made this way. I don't know why Tom and I react this way, but we do, feeling an instant connection. We can't possibly be the only ones? :) I will also go out of my way to have a conversation with an adult who has Down syndrome should I see them out in their community working or playing. I feel blessed to have just a few minutes of their time to chat with them!
THE EARLY INTERVENTION Years
THE pRE-SCHOOL YEARS
THE Elementary school YEARS
Dominique was paired up with Josh quite a bit through their years together in elementary school, as Dom seemed to be able to pick up on Josh's speech better than most. He was nearly non-verbal back then and used a lot of sign language to communicate, along with sound approximations, a communication book, body language and gestures. Dominique has decided to pursue a career as a Special Education teacher, because of Josh. What a HUGE compliment that is to him and their friendship.
Dominique, Jacob and Josh will be graduating TOGETHER in June!! THIS IS INCLUSION AT ITS BEST and a beautiful example of The Road We've Shared!
THE middle school YEARS
We, AGAIN, fell in love with his teacher, Andrea. She was devoted to her students beyond anything we had ever witnessed. Although we only see Mrs. Gates occasionally at functions and we wish that we got to see her and talk to her more, we will never forget what she meant to us. Here is a very specific story regarding Mrs. Gates:
She was a runner. Every year, she would participate in the Jolly Jaunt 5K fundraiser for Special Olympics. She would tell us every year, "I'm not running across that finish line without my kids!" So, we would bring her students to her, wait 50 yards out in front of the finish line and, as she approached us, she would gather them up and run across the finish line TOGETHER with her kids!! What a FABULOUS time we had on The Road We've Shared with Mrs. Gates!
THE High School YEARS
High school has been nothing short of spectacular for the whole family!! His teacher is Marie or as Josh calls her "SZENDA" (almost never puts Mrs. in front of her last name)! How we have been so blessed to have all of these special people in Josh's life, I will never know, but Mrs. Szenda again is just one of those teachers who just gets it. She knows how to be tough but fair. The kids absolutely adore her and I cannot blame them one bit. Josh has made many friends in high school, old friends, new friends, friends without disabilities, and friends with disabilities. THEY HAVE ALL WALKED WITH US ON "THE ROAD WE'VE SHARED"!!
You will see Josh with mom, dad, Tim, Steph, Mem, Pop, Grammie, Uncle Mike, Aunty Meef, Bananas, Aunty Sher, Uncle Rick, Tyler, Amy, Marianne, Laura, friends Sam, Alex, Sebastian, Sophia, his Special Olympics bowling buddies, his challenger baseball teammates, his special friends, Patrick, Kevin, Naomi, Bobby, Nathan, Kimmey, Lena, Sam, and Joey, his neighbors, Erica, Greg, Nathalie and Jack, his teachers, Mrs. Oliver and Mrs. Pavoni, summer paras & bus drivers, his old principal, Mr. Burgess, mom and dad's friends Bobby, Tim, Linda, Judy & Uncle Rich, his support counselor Kim, his dogs and even some members of the singing group, Celtic Thunder, who KNOW who he is when they see him!
The list of relationships Josh has with people is ENDLESS and it is nearly impossible to name everyone, so I don't know why I'm trying!! If you want to see what Josh means to everyone his life touches, take a look at the Buddy Walk pictures.....THAT is what Josh means to everyone, people coming from near and far to just be with him!
ABUNDANCE OF LOVE ON THE ROAD WE'VE SHARED
with so many amazingly wonderful people.