“To know Andrew was to love him.” This is a poignant story of a family who chose to bring up their son with Down syndrome as a fully involved member. They overcame other tragedies to help Andrew be the best he could be, being what he was with the gifts that he was given.
In spite of being told that their firstborn son should be placed in an institution because he would have many limitations in life, his parents had the courage to keep him and were constantly amazed at what Andrew achieved. He learned to read and write, ride a bicycle – sometimes too far from home – play the piano, swim almost as well as his siblings, ride horseback and perform dressage, graduate in special education from high school, take classes at a community college, travel alone on Chicago’s public transportation system, hold a job in a regular supermarket for 25 years, win ribbons and medals in Special Olympics events, and serve as the lead acolyte in his church. Andrew’s ability to describe the demons of his paranoid schizophrenia that plagued his later years provides a picture of a little-know ailment among the Down syndrome population.
The book is aimed at a broad audience in order to help all people understand the humanity and value of a person with a disability. This is especially important as medical technology continues to improve prenatal testing for abnormalities, and parents are faced with the heart-wrenching decision to terminate a pregnancy or risk having a less-than-perfect baby. The number of children born with Down syndrome is being drastically reduced, just as opportunities for them to be accepted into the mainstream of life have never been better, and their development has improved exponentially. No embryo selection or prenatal test can guarantee a flawless product or rule out unexpected calamities such as the death from cancer of our second baby.
Interwoven in the story of Andrew are: half a century of changing attitudes toward the developmentally disabled; improved educational opportunities; and discussions on pre-natal testing and abortion.
Excerpt from the Foreword by Brian Chicoine, MD:
“As the medical director of the Adult Down Syndrome Center… I always appreciate any occasion to get a more in-depth look into the lives of those individuals and their families. This book is one such opportunity… It is about the hope of that journey, and is told through the life of an amazing, delightful, loving, fun, and caring man. Each person has a story. Andrew certainly had his. In this book, you will get to know Andrew, learn his story, appreciate him, and love him. Perhaps you, too, will experience the journey, the hope, and the casting aside of preconceived notions.”