Gifts 2: How People with Down Syndrome Enrich the World

July 20, 2011

Three years ago when my daughter was born, I received a special book – Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich their Lives. The editor, Kathryn Lynard Soper, a writer who has a son with Down syndrome, worked with several other mothers to form a collection of personal stories expressing the blessings children with Down syndrome had  brought to their families’ lives. 

 The popularity of Gifts inspired a second volume—Gifts 2:  How People with Down Syndrome Enrich the World—which is a collection of stories from beyond the immediate family.  Soper opened the submissions up to other family members, friends, professionals –anyone whose life had been affected by a person with Down syndrome.   Acceptance, Courage, Friendship, Awareness and Joy are the five themes of this second anthology, each representing a gift the writer received from the person with Down syndrome.

 Seventy-six writers come together in this volume to share the meaningful experiences they have had in connection to Down syndrome.  They represent many relationships in a person’s life, including those with siblings, teachers, grandparents, therapists, cousins, school friends, as well as parents.  With candor, the writers express the feelings they had when meeting or getting to know the person with Down syndrome and how this connection has enhanced their lives.  Some describe the ironies of having grown up with an individual with Down syndrome only to become a parent of such a child in their adult years.  One thing that struck me was how many siblings of children with Down syndrome go on to careers in special education, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology because of the profound influence their sibling has had on their lives. 

 Each author should be commended on the honesty of the writings.  Some feelings expressed are very raw, and as a parent it is difficult to read the book in one sitting– the reader will want to digest the feelings that are expressed and perhaps consider how they may mirror a similar experience.  Without a doubt if you have a person with Down syndrome in your life, there will be thoughts in this book that you can relate to, so you may want to keep a tissue handy.  The book also highlights the individuality and personality of each person described in the stories.  An amazing tool for public awareness, one just hopes that the book reaches a wider audience so that stereotypes can be cast aside as readers learn about the lives of the amazing people described in each chapter.

Suggested for: Anyone with a loved one who has Down syndrome; Down syndrome associations

The Particulars: Gifts 2: How People with Down Syndrome Enrich the World.  Edited by Kathryn Lynard Soper. Published by Woodbine House, 2009.

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