I made my entrance into the world on March 19, 1989. My mom and dad already had their hands full with my brother who was almost three. After a typical pregnancy and delivery, my parents were surprised when I was born with Down Syndrome.
Acting on the suggestion of a hospital social worker, my parents contacted the Association for Children with Down Syndrome (ACDS) which is known for the excellent support it offers to children and families from preschool to adulthood. ACDS had an Early Intervention/Preschool Program for infants that specialized in educating infants with Down Syndrome on Long Island. Those early services and the continuing support of ACDS has been an invaluable resource to both me and my parents. My mother and I joined our first infant class at ACDS when I was six weeks old! The class helped me to learn to do things that typical infants pick up on their own: sit, crawl, feed myself and use sign language to make my needs and wants known. Signing helped me to reach out to the world and communicate before I could form words and sentences. I loved to sign and to share my message with others. My mom and I would go on Outreach Talks to local schools and organizations to spread the word about Down Syndrome!
I started kindergarten in my home school district. Four other children and I piloted the first inclusion class in the South Huntington, NY School District. Today, integrated classes are an educational right, but we were the first in our district to attend classes with our typical peers. In the seventh grade, the academic demands became too challenging for me, so I was taught in smaller classes.
During my school years, I became involved in Special Olympics swimming, gymnastics and horseback riding and I had a great time competing with my friends. When I was still quite young, I started dancing. I had a wonderful dance teacher who taught me so much. Later on, I joined another dance company and began competing in dance competitions with my typical peers. It was so exciting to be on stage and I won many awards. I also performed in multiple musical theater productions through Saint Hugh Productions at my local church.