now for all, a message from a person WITH down's syndrome, i can understand peoples different views, the one i have trouble coping with is "it is right for the baby".... like killing grandad because he has arthritiis... would be best if he doesn't suffer... i think "it is right for the rest of the family and have to put previous childrens needs first" may be appropriate and perhaps a reasonable measure to terminate, but never justify this decision by saying you are doing the "right thing for a baby" by scattering their ashes... anyway a young lady with downs syndrome wrote this:
What Is Down Syndrome For Me?
I went to normal schools (whatever they are), and I was in the regular cla__ses. I liked my schools and I liked my teachers. I found the work hard, but Mum helped me with my homework and my reading.
They have always said that people with Down syndrome would not learn very much. When I was eleven, in Year 5, my teacher wrote in my school report: "We should not expect too much of Ruth". But I wanted to show people that they are wrong about me having Down syndrome. Inside me, I had the feeling that I can do things.
But then I had to change schools as there was no help for me in the senior school. In my new school I did some cla__ses with the other students and also did special education. I wanted to learn to type, but the teacher said learning to type was too hard for me. But I did it, and kept on trying.
So what was it like being a person with Down syndrome at school? I didn’t have many friends in senior school, and sometimes I felt "outside". At lunchtime, I used to go to the school library and read books. When people were mean to me, I just walked away. And when some people were not interested in me, I felt left out. I felt lonely then. They were not friends of mine. And some people stared at me, and sort of pointed at me, and I found that rude.
But I wanted to keep learning so after I left school I enrolled at a word processing course. This is what happened! The teacher called my name out in front of the whole cla__s and asked me if I could type. She thought because I had Down syndrome that I had no keyboard skills! But I did not understand all the work and I asked for help, and that upset the teacher. And then the other students said they needed help too! They all thanked me for standing up to her. And I pa__sed the course.
Having Down syndrome means it is harder to get a job. And when they do offer jobs they are not suitable, like the job at the airport, which was shift work starting at 7.00 in the morning and the last shift ending at midnight! And then I would have to get home. How would I do it? But I had two office jobs, and I was the relief switchboard operator, but those jobs finished.
This is great news! And I have been waiting a long time for this! I am now employed in a permanent part time job as a clerk with the St George Bank in their Head Office. This is a good job. I like doing the work, and I like the people there and I have made friends in the workplace. When I wear the uniform I feel business-like. I am part of the St George team. I fit in.
I always wanted to be an actor and I have done it! I started doing drama cla__ses when I was eleven years old. I never thought I would be an actor on TV, but I was asked to be in " A Country Practice" in a guest role. Then I got another job. I got a part in a play on the stage. How did I get involved in it? Well, I auditioned and I got in.
The play was called "A More Fortunate Life" which is about two people who have a disability, and how they cope with it. The five of us, including the director, did the writing of the script from the workshops we did. We took it to the Adelaide Fringe Festival and toured New South Wales country towns, playing in schools and theatres. It was a full time job and I loved it. Then I auditioned and got a role in the TV series "House Gang", a comedy series about three people who live in a group home which was shown in Australia on SBS and also went international: it was shown in the United Kingdom and Sweden. I loved playing the role of Belinda because she was very romantic! We made a second series in 1998 with the support of Channel Four in the United Kingdom.
The actual job was this: it took twelve weeks to film. I knew this work would take all my commitment. I was very honest with myself because I knew the filming would start very early and finish late. It was strenuous. As an actor you’re not supposed to think of other people but yourself and the other person that you are working with. You have to make it happen for them as well as you. Team work. Acting is a hard job but I love it!
People always ask me how do I learn my lines? Do I have to have help? Well, I don’t. I learn all of my lines by myself and I keep at it. I also know the whole script. I never miss a cue. I do my job, and I work very hard. I am always ready on time, and I am very well organised.
One of the videos I made is called "Talk About It". It is about s_xual a__sault. The aim of this video is to teach people that you have rights and you can ask for help. The Chicago International Film Festival in 1997 honoured the four of us who acted in it with an Award for Talent.
So as an actor who happens to have Down syndrome, I have been able to get lots of work. I have done videos promoting rights at work and in the community, and I have performed at launches and promotions. As an actor I hope to encourage people with Down syndrome to get out in the world and do things. I want to show people through my acting that they can have a life like anyone else. I would like to say to people out there with Down syndrome to just carry on. Don’t let it worry you. Just do your best!
What Down syndrome means to me is that I can have a life just like anybody else. And I have made a life for myself. I represent people with disabilities on three committees. I am a member of the management committee of the Down Syndrome a__sociation of New South Wales.
I like to contribute to the community, to help people and be useful. So I do volunteer work. I am often asked to give talks to community groups, university students, and schools, mostly high school students, and that’s important because they should know about us people with Down syndrome! Over the last four years I have spoken to over thirty schools. I also work as a volunteer at Mary MacKillop Place in North Sydney in the coffee shop.
I swim every Sunday with the Bondi Mermaids in the ocean pool right through winter. And now I have joined the Bondi Icebergs. It’s cool!
My brother Michael is also cool. Nanna is dead now but I still love her. We had the best times together. Friends are for the good times and the bad times. That’s what friends are for! Friends are on your side for ever more and they won’t let you go. Some of my friends have Down syndrome and some do not. I have special close friends and I ring them up and talk about things like the family, work, the weekend, and we try to go out with each other to the movies or go out to lunch. When their birthdays come I send them a card and ring them up on the day because it makes it special for them.
But there are things that I cannot do. Michael stays out overnight. Why can’t I? Michael goes away on weekends. Why can’t I? I know why! Because I can’t get there, and I can’t drive the car, and my friends can’t drive either!
Now this is the kind of thing that makes me mad! I went to the bank with my mother to open a cheque and key card account because I had a job and I was earning money. The lady in the bank kept on asking mum all the questions, and she didn’t ask me anything! I felt like saying "Hello! I’m over here, lady"!
I strongly believe that adults with Down syndrome can have a life! People with Down syndrome need to support each other and now we have our own a__sociation. I am past President of the Future Adult Advisors. We call ourselves the "Up Club" and we are a peer support and self advocacy group. The aim of our group is to help each other and to make new friends, and to make other people aware of us. And we have over one hundred members.
What is Down syndrome for me? I do not feel any different. I know it is there, but I do not think about it. I carry on with my life. It is not going to stop me having a flat one day and getting married. I have learnt to be strong and can cope with people who are mean to me. I don’t let it worry me. I feel secure.
In a play I did, my final speech is a powerful monologue, it really hits home.
And from me, over forty and pregnant, they can stick their amnio's fair up their bums, the miracles of modern science to me (and this is just my opinion) are just like hitlers eugenics to create the 'perfect race'......