A Story of Inspiration: How Vernon Changed My Perception of Disability
Many people, including myself at the time, think that individuals with Down syndrome are less happy than individuals without Down syndrome. According to a study that reported the level of happiness among people with Down syndrome:
- 99% of people with Down syndrome who were surveyed expressed that they were happy with their lives.
- 96% said that they like who they are and how they look.
- 99% said that they love their family.
According to the most recent statistics from the Center for Disease Control, the number of babies born each year with Down syndrome is around 6,000, which is approximately 1 in every 700 babies born. Compared to children without the condition, these individuals are at an increased risk for a variety of conditions, which include heart defects, respiratory problems, ear and eye-related issues, and intestinal blockage that requires surgery.
“Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you’re needed by someone.” ~Martina Navratilova (considered to be one of the best professional female tennis players of all time)
That day, Vernon did not win any medals in any of the competitions, but his infectious enthusiasm and love for life won over my heart as he demonstrated that life is not about being the smartest, the strongest, or the best-looking. It’s about caring for and loving one another. It’s about accepting people where they are and not drawing conclusions about what they can and cannot do because, when given the opportunity, people can surprise you in a good way.
When you open your heart to the endless possibilities that exist in the world and keep an open mind to things you may not fully understand, life can take you to places you can’t even imagine. That right there is showing off your God-given abilities (a.k.a. your superpowers)!
Douglas Haddad, is an award-winning educator and best-selling author. You can go online or to a local bookstore and order his best-selling-book The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens: Strategies for Unlocking Your Child’s Full Potential, you will find specific strategies to help guide your child with time management, setting goals, and motivation to achieve greatness in their life. www.douglashaddad.com