This is chapter 10 from my first book; I hope you enjoy it, I hope it helps you or inspires you . . .
I am known as many things by my loving wife, one of which is, procrastinator; and I resemble this remark in many ways, all of them good. Along time ago I heard that 98% of the things we worry about in life, never happen; thus my eagerness to wait and see.
Seriously though, when calmer heads prevail, better decisions can be made and, if and when we find ourselves ‘reacting’ to something, shouldn’t we ask ourselves, ‘what is the best way to handle this situation’?
When Kyle and Hunter were born, I sought information; on Down syndrome and what it meant to my children. When I learned that the condition was not life threatening, I then turned my attention on support and what kinds of ‘help’ were available. I also paid close attention to the well being of Michele, her mental and emotional state were both fragile. As soon as she got passed the initial shock, her motherly instincts kicked in and yes, from time to time, thirteen years later, she still cries and so do I, but we’ve learned to share our emotions and lives together and in doing so; everything turns out, just fine.
In the beginning of our children’s lives, we were introduced to therapy; occupational and physical. After a few years, we mixed in some additional therapies; speech, music, art, warm water and horse back riding. Some had great impact, others not so much; the biggest lesson we learned was never to under estimate what the boys could do, by letting ourselves or anyone else tell us what they could not do.
Elementary school was a big step for us and the boys, we had moved from our home in Broomfieldfor several reasons, all of them to do with our children. We wanted our children to be in Adams 12 school district; we felt at the time that Adams12 had significantly better programs for the developmentally disabled; now half way through 8th grade, we still feel just as strongly.
During the boy’s elementary school years, we discovered that the boys behaved better if they were not together in the same class room. Yes, they attend public school and they attend regular classes with all the other neighborhood children, what a novel concept. As they transitioned into middle school, we found ourselves having to put the boys in the same classroom setting for a portion of the day due to space and school budget. In spite of it all, the boys and their teachers figured out a way to make this work, isn’t that amazing. We worry about our children because we care and we find that we are blessed with teachers, classmates and neighbors that care just as much as we do.
I am no longer going to procrastinate; I’m going to start worrying about high school right now; eleven months will come and go before I know it, so let the worries begin.
Once again, I find myself learning a lesson, but the lesson has nothing to do with my children having Down syndrome. Let me put it this way; in a few short days, Americans will vote on a number of things, a new president and hopefully for the first time, a female as vice president of theUnited States. We will also find ourselves voting on issues closer to home, like ending wait lists for the disabled; wait lists that are so long a person could find themselves being on the list all their life and never receiving services for which they wait. I’ve even heard a great excuse not to vote to end the wait list; have the disabled write their congress person instead of raising our taxes to improve the dismal services that currently exist; please.
Then there’s this excuse; Down syndrome isn’t that bad, these people live fairly normal lives, do they really need ‘services’ in order to lead better lives? My response to this is simple and blunt; ‘my children were born with a developmental disability and make no excuses; what’s yours”? The reasoning that individuals with Down syndrome having relatively normal lives is no excuse for excusing them from services or life or any other opportunity available to them. The fact is that the developmentally disabled community needs and deserves better than what it gets and I will spend the rest of my life fulfilling this mission.
Let me step off my soap box and get back to; everything will be just fine for a moment; when ever we have had to deal with a situation, be it an individual education plan (IEP), IQ test (you figure out what IQ stands for) or anything else imaginable that includes our children; we sit down face to face with the other party involved and figure out the best way possible to deal with it. Example; I received a notice from the school principal one day stating that the school was in ‘lock down’ due to an ‘unsubstantiated threat’. Being me, I called the school and scheduled a meeting (face to face) with the principal and having had similar meetings during my childhood; I knew just what I was in for. I wanted to know, from the principal and from my children’s teacher and care provider, “what plan was in place for my sons in the event that the school was ever found itself in a ‘substantiated’ threat”, and the principal and my sons teacher rolled out their plan and it was amazing that they had thought of every possible worst case scenario, and are prepared, in advance.
Once again, I am reminded that ‘communication’ can resolve so much more than a lack of it; I’m also reminded that other people have the same concerns, worries, cares, problems, situations and life events, that I have and as long as I treat others the way they treat me, everything will be just fine.
I have also entered a new career or profession; November 1st, 2006, I became a licensed insurance agent/producer in the state ofColorado, able to offer home and auto insurance to residents in my great state. I was very fortunate to meet a gentleman that took an interest in me, my family and my story; he owns the agency at which I work and he and the fellow company owners of Affordable American Insurance have offered me an opportunity to not only provide me with an income, but also the opportunity to give back to my community, specifically the developmentally disabled community.
In January of 2008, I was nominated for a community service award by the owner of the agency in which I work with one of the insurance carriers we represent. I was awarded $15,000 for the organization I supported, Mile High Down Syndrome Association; in 13 years, no one had paid a bigger compliment to my wife and I in honor of our sons. I was recognized by the CEO of Affordable American Insurance (AAI) during the corporate meeting and held a press conference with the local paper and city council representative; during these events, the CEO of AAI made a point of letting me know that I was a valuable and significant member of the AAI team.
I am fortunate to have found an opportunity with AAI; and I produce a fair amount of insurance business for my agency and company; but the blessing that I have received as a member of this company far out weighs the income I am able to earn as a result of my policy production. I am recognized for my worth as a person, a father and community member in addition to my contribution to the bottom line; this is something I have been looking for the last thirteen years, an opportunity to make a living and make a difference.
My sincere and deepest gratitude goes to Barrett Bartels, the owner of the agency I work with and Tony (CEO) and Lissa Fernandez of Affordable American Insurance; I am both proud and humble to work in a profession that enables me to provide products and services that give value to my clients, from the best of the best in the insurance industry by a leader in the independent insurance business, Affordable American Insurance.