Monday, August 29, 2011

Down Syndrome and Public Perception

Blogaholic Designs”=
So many times in my journey as the parent of a child with Down syndrome (now 38 years old),l I have heard people say, "Oh, kids with Down syndrome are so affectionate and loving and want to hug people all the time....." etc. I am here to tell you that classifying all people with Down as "affectionate and loving" is nearly the same thing as saying all blacks love fried chicken and watermelon. It's preposterous.

People with Down syndrome have one thing in common - an extra chromosome on their 21st pair. That's pretty much it. Oh, they have similar features, but as to their personalities and behavior, they are as different as people without special needs are.

My daughter is a wonderful, intelligent, funny, confident adult. She is NOT publicly affectionate, and she really considers her personal space her own. If you met her, she would certainly NOT come up and hug you. As a matter of fact, she has a great deal of respect for other people's personal space as well. I'm not saying she doesn't love some people - she certainly does love her family and friends. But don't expect her to love you automatically just because she has an extra chromosome. It ain't gonna happen. You have to earn her love and respect, just as you would if she didn't have Down. If would not be any more appropriate for you to hug her than it would be for you to hug any stranger upon meeting them, and you certainly shouldn't expect a hug from her any more than you would from any other stranger. After I married her mother in 1999, it took a year for her to feel comfortable enough with me to hug me goodnight!

And so, a word to the wise, as I'm sure any other parent of a child or adult with Down would tell you - they are so much more like "us" than like each other. Don't assume anything about people with Down that you wouldn't assume with "us".

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A SPY AT HOME - Latest 5-Star Amazon Review!

Blogaholic Designs”=Thrilling, Heart Wrenching, Suspense Adventure!, August 21, 2011

By Tom McGee "Tom" (Springfield, IL USA) - See all my reviews

(VINE VOICE) This review is from: A SPY AT HOME (Kindle Edition)

Joseph Rinaldo contacted me not long ago and asked me if I would be willing to read and review his book, A Spy at Home. I received the manuscript and began reading it yesterday.

I had to force myself to put it down last night in favor of sleep; however, I thought about it all night long and jumped up early this morning and finished it before breakfast.

Rinaldo knows how to grab and keep readers interested on a variety of levels. Although he kept me on the edge of my chair rapidly flipping dangerously exciting pages that included agencies like the CIA, FBI, NSA, a District Attorney's Office, as well as cyber hackers, this book is not a typical spy novel. It is also a love story that deals with death, adoption and the heart wrenching affects of Down syndrome and Alzheimer's.

Following a severe reaction to a bites from a swarm of mosquitoes, Garrison, a CIA operative, is treated in a secret CIA hospital by his future wife, Louisa.

Some years after their marriage, they notice a fire in a trailers house near their home occupied by a drug addict mother who died in the fire. Her Down's syndrome baby, Noah Kendrick, survived.

With the help of red tape cutting, Clarita Johnson, from the state adoption agency Garrison and Louisa adopted Noah after he was abondoned by his low-life relatives.

With Garrison away on dangerous CIA missions, Louisa was Noah's primary care taker until Garrison retired from the CIA after 20 years service.

Undetected, Garrison stole and diverted to Swiss Bank Accounts, nearly all of 10 million CIA dollars intended for use by African rebels on a mission to dispose of a dictator not friendly with the United States.

Pressure mounts as Garrison's focus on CIA missions diminshes as he stuggles with his son's dehabilitating condition, fears he or his family will be killed by hit men and worries about what to do with the loot without getting caught.

The story is told by Garrison, to be released following his death.

I recommend this novel to those who enjoy fast moving and thrilling suspense adventures.
I can hardly believe this book costs less than two dollars as a Kindle download!

This was my first exposure to Joseph Rinaldo, but it will not be my last. I look forward to the next episode of this haunting story. Enjoy!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

The UP Side of Down Syndrome

Blogaholic Designs”=So, I said on my profile and later in my blog that I would try to educate the reader about all things Down syndrome, and so here I am trying to do so. First of all, Down syndrome is a form of mental retardation that is associated with an extra chromosome on the 21st pair. In other words, instead of two, there are three; thus, Down syndrome is also called Trisomy 21. The degree of mental retardation among this population varies widely, and abilities also vary. Much of what these children and adults accomplish depends on how early intervention and developmental learning is begun.

Though my uncle has Down syndrome, I did not know him very well; when I married my now-wife, she had a daughter with Down who was (at that time) 26 - now 38. Becoming a stepfather to a grown daughter is challenging; becoming a stepfather to an adult daughter with Down syndrome who still lives with her mother was more than challenging. I am very pleased to say that over the past 12 years we have made it work, and she and I are very close and get along about as well as any father and daughter! I've made adjustments in my expectations, and she has worked very hard to get over her jealousy of my spending time with her mom (they were alone without a "dad" in the house for 20 years before I came along).

My daughter is bright, social, determined, and very active. She participates in many Special Olympics events, works as a volunteer for a nonprofit organization, is involved in a Best Buddies program at Vanderbilt University, reads and loves music, and exercises every day. She has no major health problems, though many people with Down syndrome do. We are very fortunate. She works word search puzzles, and she is so good at them that she can finish a whole book of them in no time flat. She is interested in everything, is very self-sufficient, and contributes a great deal to the household.

We are members of the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee (for which all three of us volunteer and participate in fundraisers), and I am a member of a local D.A.D.S. (Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome) group. Being a parent to a child/adult with Down syndrome presents some unique challenges, but I would not change her or our family for the world.

Like most people with a disability, my daughter is more like "typical" (we don't use the word "normal" - who among us could claim to be normal, and in fact, what does normal mean?) people than unlike them, and I just wanted all my blog readers to know how proud I am to be her DAD.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Patriot or Traitor?

Blogaholic Designs”=What if you worked for a corrupt government? What if you were the channel through which millions were funneled to support illegal coups in other countries that would benefit your employer? What if you had the opportunity to "divert" some of that wealth into your own pocket with absolutely no risk to yourself or your family? What if you retired from your job as a spy and came home to discover that because of your long and frequent absences, your wife resented you and your disabled son barely knew you? What if you accidentally killed your wife and then had to learn how to take care of your son as he slowly fell victim to the ravages of Alzheimer's disease?

What would you do? How would you cope? How would you get closer to a son that was slipping away from you? How would you provide for his needs in the event that you died before he did? Who would take care of him if you were gone?

Garrison deals with all these critical issues and more in A SPY AT HOME, my ebook available on Amazon for only $1.99. He works for the CIA, but becomes disenchanted when he discovers just how little his employer provides for the families of agents killed in the line of duty. He is fed up with the corruption and graft, and he decides to get out...taking some of the "dirty" money with him. His family can now live in the lap of luxury...or can they?

What happens next?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Blogging: How Do You Keep It Fresh?

Blogaholic Designs”=As I "work" the internet to promote my ebook, A SPY AT HOME (available on Amazon for only $1.99), I see the hard work other bloggers do to keep up with those who follow them. It's amazing to me. When do they find the time? I have a full-time job and a family, and between that and promoting my ebook, revising the next one I will release - HAZARDOUS CHOICES - and trying to keep up with such things as yard work, etc. around the house, I'm exhausted!

Blogging is interesting. It can either be much like having a conversation with yourself, or it can be like talking to a (admittedly absent) friend. Sometimes the comments I post draw responses - occasionally heated ones - but other times the blog posts just lie there. I am not sure how a blogger draws the interest of blog-readers, and I would be very interested to know how some of the more successful bloggers keep readers tuned in to their blogs day after day.

If you are a successful blogger, please offer me some suggestions for keeping my blog fresh and alive. I'd appreciate it!