A Gift that Keeps on Giving
My precious daughter, Patricia, has Down Syndrome. Actually, that is a reality that I don’t think about much. She is such a dynamic and charming young Lady whose personality and accomplishments go right past any thoughts of a disability. Rather we only see her ability.
Patricia graduated from her high school in 2003 after having been educated in an inclusive setting since the third grade. I could write volumes on our experiences with IEP meetings, scheduling therapies that didn’t interfere with class work, social interactions, homework assignments, and life in general. It was challenging, rewarding, exciting, and she dedicated herself to completing each task no matter how difficult it was. Our children are blessed with many wonderful strengths that constantly lift our spirits and help us see what they see; goodness in all people and brightness in most every situation. Patricia would never give into doubt, but, would see her way through to the finish.
Moreover, we really wanted to reward her for all of her efforts that brought her successfully to Graduation! Her heart’s desire was to meet Dolly Parton and see her in concert. I have included herein an excerpt from a letter that I wrote to the DollyWood Foundation.
..let me tell you a little bit about our Patricia. First and foremost, she adores Dolly Parton. She sings and signs (American Sign Language) to just about all of Dolly’s songs. Patricia is hearing impaired, but does not need signing to communicate. Remarkably, she has taught herself signing through systematic studying of sign books and memorizing the words. She decided on her own to do this so that she could help children that do have communication needs.
During the last year and a half, Patricia has used her signing skills and her wonderful personality in her internship as a teacher’s assistant in two elementary schools. She has worked with children that have disabilities and with a regular pre-school class. Every Saturday night, she is the caregiver at our church for a precious young lady who is blind and profoundly disabled. They adore each other. Patricia is teaching Amanda finger spelling that she learned from studying Helen Keller’s life.
Patricia will graduate from her high school here on June 6. She has been in regular classes since the third grade and has worked very hard to reach this Senior year and finally… Graduation! We are all very excited to know that she will be employed in our school district next year. She again will be working with children with all kinds of disabilities. That is her heart’s desire, to be with and love children that have challenges.
I almost forgot to tell you that Patricia has Down Syndrome. As you can see from the enclosed photo, she is a beautiful little red-head. Our family has looked at her as our special gift from God, and have always endeavored to help her meet her potential.
We really want to reward Patricia for her efforts. It has taken many long hours of hard work over the years, but she has persevered. As one of our favorite Dolly songs says “She is a Brave Little Soldier.” That song has meant so much to us, as I am sure it does to all the precious little ones that your Foundation reaches out to. I can’t think of anything at all that would please and touch Patricia more than being able to see Dolly, especially if she could be with children that are needing to be encouraged.
I would be most grateful for any consideration that you could give towards helping Patricia get to see Dolly in the Christmas Benefit. That would be an incredible reward for our Patricia…
…Thank you so very much for letting me tell you just a little bit about my very special little lady.
What followed was nothing short of spectacular. Patricia was given the opportunity to meet Dolly in person at DollyWood as well as to attend her fabulous Christmas Concert. Dolly spent 20 precious minutes with Patricia. They sang Coat of Many Colors and Nine to Five with Patricia signing while they sang together. Dolly hugged her and said “Lord, girl! You’re good! You need to go on tour with me!” Patricia took that literally and was ready to leave us right then and hit the trail with Dolly.
That experience added to the motivation that Patricia already possessed in her spirit to Sing and Sign as her passion for life.
That gift to her keeps on giving and giving. Patricia has accomplished so much with her determination to learn all she can about sign language and to use it as a ministry of Love to others.
She enrolled in our Community College so she could perfect her interpretive skills in American Sign Language. Her determination was rewarded with an A in each of the two college language classes that she took. How about that for Down Syndrome Power!
Patricia has sung, and signed so beautifully, our National Anthem at Special Olympics, State of Florida opening ceremonies. She performs with a Christian ministry of Sign and Song “Rock the Silence”. Our church honored her by showing a video of Patricia explaining what if means to initiate change in our world by loving others. She then sang and signed a beautiful song “Carry your Candle, Go Light Your World”.
Patricia is giving of her gifts to so many others. What lessons we can learn from our children. Down Syndrome is truly Awesome!
More From Patricia
You May Also Like
- 20 Positive Affirmations to Remind Your Child They Are Loved
- 17 Most Popular Inspirational Quotes
- 32 Motivational Quotes to Inspire Special Needs Parents
- The Puppy – A Story from Chicken Soup for the Soul
- A Letter to the Sibling of a Child with Special Needs
- The Special Mother
- Dad’s Emotional Video Defending Down Syndrome
- Daddy Loves You: A Reminder for Daddies of Children with Special Needs
- A Story of Inspiration: How Vernon Changed My Perception of Disability
- Autistic Teen Finds Inner Voice
- Ever Wonder What It’s Like to Experience Sensory Overload?
- Service Dogs to the Rescue: Helping to Make Dreams Come True
- Handling Your Child’s Diagnosis: Six Things Parents Should Do For Themselves
- 8 Ways to be a Great Advocate For Your Family Member With Special Needs
- I Do Not like Being a Special Needs Parent and That’s OK
- Coping with the Life You Never Imagined
- Developing Your Own Network
- The Gift of a Limb