I will never forget the day I officially learned from a geneticist that my child wasn’t going to experience the ‘normal’ life I had envisioned for him. It was a very scary time because along with his diagnosis, I did not receive a book with all of the answers to the questions that were suddenly running through my mind. I am only guessing, but I am sure many parents of children with disabilities experience the very same isolating and crushing feeling I did when I couldn’t answer the question, “What is my child’s life going to be like?”
It is with this in mind that I am always interested in hearing the stories of others and how they have coped with raising a ‘special’ child. I recently came across a film called “Dakota’s Pride,” a story about a father trying to understand his son’s diagnosis of Down syndrome. This movie documents the journey he took as he attempted to gain an accurate representation of this genetic disorder from parents, special needs educators, pastors, renowned physicians, advocates and grown adults living with Down syndrome. He begins this journey in the vast unknown, as so many parents do when their child is diagnosed with a disability. He tries to answer the very same question I had – what is my child’s life going to be like?
I admit, prior to this film, I did not know much about Down syndrome. The only time I really thought about the disorder and the impact it may have on my life is when I took the Alpha-Fetoprotein blood test during each of my pregnancies. Now that I look back, I think it is because of this test that I, as well as most Americans, learned to fear Down syndrome without really knowing anything about it. “Dakota’s Pride” really educated me and showed that children with Down syndrome can not only live normal lives just as you or I, but can also enrich the lives of those around them in incredible ways.
I wish every parent, whether their child has disabilities or not, could see this film because of all of the inspiring stories it portrayed. It documented stories of a young college graduate and advocate who speaks for individuals with disabilities; a young married couple in love; an Olympic silver medal winner; and a group of young kids who followed their dreams and put on dance and singing performances for others. These are all great stories, but they become incredible when you learn all of these individuals also have Down syndrome.
Dakota’s Pride is heartwarming and educational. I learned Down syndrome is not something to fear and that having a child with this disorder can be a blessing and something to celebrate. As a parent of a child with disabilities, I learned that my child’s life is rich and full of possibilities, just like any other.
If you want to know more about the documentary “Dakota’s Pride”, please visit http://www.dakotaspride.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/dakotasPride. All proceeds from this film fund the nonprofit organization The Gifted Learning Project; visit http://www.theglp.org/ for more information.