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My Brother Was the Kid the World Was Against

Down Syndrome Awareness Month exists so we can celebrate the abilities and accomplishments of individuals with Down syndrome. We honor this month so we can show the rest of the world these individuals are more than their disabilities. From a young age, these people are often told their disability will hinder them and they will accomplish very little. We are here to help prove the doubters wrong.

My mother had my brother, Derek, when she was 32 years old. The doctors prepared her and my dad, saying there were signs Derek had Down syndrome. No one was quite sure yet, but it was just something they should be prepared for. It wasn’t confirmed until my brother’s first checkup.

As parents having their first child, there were so many different emotions going through their minds when they heard this news. In the midst of the fear and confusion, my parents chose one emotion to overpower them all: love. It didn’t matter that Derek had Down syndrome because he was still their son, and they were sure his abilities would outshine his disability.

The rest of the world, however, seemed to be against Derek. When my mom brought him to his potential first school for an evaluation, the person was pessimistic, to say the least. She told my mom Derek would never walk, talk, or function like a “normal” human being. She looked my mom in the eyes and told her Derek would forever be incapable.

Derek grew up to prove that lady wrong. He is a hyper 21-year-old who never stops talking. He has catchphrases he says when someone does something funny and others when he’s upset. His athletic abilities are through the roof. Not only does Derek walk, but he runs, plays basketball, baseball, and rides his three-wheeled bike. It was as if Derek heard that lady limiting him and decided he would grow up to show her otherwise.

Derek is my best friend. He has inspired me to pursue a career in special education and has encouraged me to be the best person I can be. We share the same taste in music and movies, and the things that make him laugh always make me too. I have seen him grow from someone who shut down when I cried to someone who holds my hand through my tears. I have seen him grow from someone afraid of the telephone to someone maintaining conversations with me for 10 minutes just to tell me about his day. The same kid who the world was against is now taking the reins and making this life his own.

sister and brother smiling

I am proud of Derek. I am proud of the things he has accomplished and the man he has become. He infuriates me, like any brother would, but he also loves me deeply. I wouldn’t trade him for any other man in the whole world. Going to college seven hours away from him is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but the hug he gives me and the smile on his face whenever I return for a visit makes it all worth it.

There are still people in the world who are doubters. They think Derek, and everyone like him, won’t amount to much of anything. It’s our job as members of this community to share stories like this one. I’m excited to see what things Derek does in his future because it’s clear to me he’s still working to prove everyone wrong.

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Have you seen the first film with a national release to star a person with Down syndrome? Check out the film “Where Hope Grows” today!

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