Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Born This Way

I turned the tv on yesterday as I was doing some stitching and I came across this program on the A&E network.

It is a television show documenting the lives of young adults with Down Syndrome.  I could not stop watching this show. I was captivated by this group of young people. Apparently they were re running the first season as the second season debut was last night.  I had a young cousin who had Downs and he died in his 30s but he made a big impression on me. In addition to Downs, Chris suffered with Autism but a happier fellow would be hard to find.

This tv show focuses on the challenges that Downs Syndrome people face as they age. No longer children, they long for the same thing we all hope for in life, a job, a home and a family.  Most of the DS adults featured on Born This Way are high functioning.  They are articulate and most hold down jobs or they do volunteer work.  One of the young ladies, Megan, has her own business called Megology. She sells tie dye clothing and tote bags on her own web site. Megan's mother was just 23 when she was born, dispelling the idea that Downs babies are only born to older mothers. She raised Megan alone after Megan's dad left, unable to face the reality of Megan's diagnosis.   Megan's mom helps Megan run her website and has a true desire to see Megan reach her goals in life. Megan's tag line is "Do not limit me." And while Megan has a desire to be independent, we see that she is not capable of living on her own due to a lack of life skills.  But Megan is working on those skills this season on the show. Her first challenge is learning to do her own laundry. And that is the surprising aspect of this show...while talented in some areas, they struggle in learning the basic life skills.

One of the guys on the show works at the Angels Ball Field. His desire in life is to get his Drivers License and to live apart from his parents.  He is very high functioning and cute as can be. He also wants a girl friend and he would like to date a "typical" girl. Last season he did learn how to ride a bike on his own, allowing him some independence.

Only one of the young adults lives in a group home and she is very happy there. In fact, her mother was chiding her for not coming to visit the parents.:)

The fact that these young people are experiencing the normal hormonal development is hard for their parents as they worry about the potential for heartbreak and worse, that they might be taken advantage of by someone.  I enjoy hearing the parents talk about what it is like to guide their child through the rough waters of Downs.  One young couple is engaged. Both sets of parents are approving of the relationship and help them by driving them to dates etc. Last night they shared they hope to be married in 2018.   Their engagement is a source of envy for many of their peers. They all talk about their hope for marriage.   Megan has told her mom that one of her dreams is that she would have a baby. Megan's mom had a serious discussion with her about why that dream is probably one that she will have to put aside. I am not sure how well Megan understood what her mom was talking about but Megan realizes that her Mom always has given her good advice and after a few tears she seemed ready to accept this reality.

I will be watching the second season of this show. My husband cannot watch it, it upsets him to see the struggles these young people face. But I find it very encouraging and uplifting. Born this Way airs on A&E on Tuesdays at 10 pm Eastern time if you want to check it out next week.


Karen said...

Thanks for sharing about this TV show. I learned so much from my son with DS during his short life, and then went on to teach special education for many years. Every person is a unique gift from God.

Arlene Grimm said...

So true Karen. In fact one of the moms was telling her daughter that she was so scared when she heard the doctor say Down Syndrome. The daughter asked why...and the mother confided that she was afraid Christina's life would not be happy but now she knows how much joy her daughter has given her and she would tell her young self that everything would be ok.

Terri D said...

I'm sure the show is uplifting and encouraging, but I can also understand how it could be very sad. We have a young man (27) who stops at the Museum every week for a day. We keep him busy shredding paper. He is happy and willing to help but is not high functioning. I know his mom and dad have to be concerned about his future and I think that would be my biggest worry if he was my child. What happens when mom and dad are not longer able to care for him. Thanks for recommending the show!

Barbara said...

I haven't seen the show. My sister's daughter is slow but not with DS. She faces most of the problems the DS kids face as far as life skills. She will never be able to live on her own. She has a little job and that gives her self satisfaction (and aggravation) like all of us. It also gives her spending money to chose the nail polish or special shirt she wants. It is hard for us as parents not to want everything little thing just right for our kids. Life isn't that way and with so many DS children out there is must be a good example of how good life can be and how to accept difficulties.

Arlene Grimm said...

Terri I realized while watching this show that all of these young people were high functioning and to me, that can present a false picture but over all I enjoyed this show and I want to see where life takes these exceptional young adults. Barbara, I think we all need to feel needed and to have a bit of independence. When I go to the grocery store on Friday mornings I see two older moms with adult special needs children shopping for groceries. I alway stay to speak to many refuse to even acknowledge those who are different.