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Alex is a 17 year old junior in high school who has Down syndrome. Alex has an older sister, Courtney, and a younger brother, Tom. My name is Gary, which according to me father is short for Margaret, it has stayed with me all my life. We all live in Colorado with John, my husband and Alex’s father. Alex has two grandmothers, four aunts, three uncles, 15 cousins and two frogs. Her grandfather “grandpa” died last year as well as her beloved dog, Lucy. These events were tough for her and she still grieves.
Everyone who meets Alex falls in love with her.
Alex is a singer and has performed on stage at local benefits. She is an actress and has been in the last three school plays. Alex is an artist and has created hundreds of pieces of art using all types of materials. She is my adventure girl and is always up for a last minute trip anywhere. Alex loves sports. She is the manager of the boy’s high school football team, and plays on the girls basketball and soccer teams, This past summer, July 2010, she was one of 28 athletes chosen to represent the State of Colorado in the National Special Olympic Game that were held in Lincoln, NE. She earned a silver medal as well at a 5th, 6th and 7th place finish in the track and field events.
Alex is the apple of my eye, she is kind, caring and sensitive. She is the first to notice my haircut or new outfit. Alex has an intuition about others, and can sense when words of comfort or hugs are needed. She brings sunshine into everyday of my life.
Alex is delayed in everything. Her math, reading and writing levels currently test in the 3rd to 5th grade range. Her speech is intelligible and her sentences about ten words long, her grammar is correct about 75% of the time. She needs weekly speech therapy sessions to maintain and improve her language skills.
This does not bother me one bit, it is who Alex is.
Alex loves to eat and is overweight. She has difficulty with appropriate social behavior, but yearns for a boyfriend. Her favorite TV shows are any airing on the Disney Channel. She loves Justin Bieber and wants to marry him.
Alex can be obstinate, rude, inflexible and a pain in the butt. If Alex does not want to do something, it is often very difficult to persuade her otherwise. The usual bribes and promises that work with my two other kids do not work with her. Her version of the future cannot get past the current moment to see what can happen in an hour, a day or the next week.
We battle about her homework, her eating habits and her personal hygiene. Alex is not apt to succumb to peer pressure like other teenagers – and the idea that she should do her homework, eat healthy or dress like a 17 year old girl are not important to her.
In terms of homework – it is sometimes difficult for me to tell if the work is too hard for Alex – or she would just rather be doing something else. In most cases she would just rather be watching the Disney channel, just like my other kids, although they do not prefer the Disney channel.
Food is particularly challenging. I believe that it is the only constant in her life over which she has any control. She does not seem to recognize when she is full and will eat until we stop her. We no longer keep much food in the house, as Alex will devour it. For my 15 year old son who is skinny and still growing, we hide treats so he can keep some fat on his bones
When Alex’s sports are in full swing: basketball, skiing, soccer and track we are more successful at food moderation. Alex’s stamina is not as good as the other athlete’s, she overheats easier and exercise modifications are made. Sports helps us maintain her weight, but not reduce it.
As far as personal hygiene -Alex needs to be reminded every day to take a shower. She does not want to be “pretty” and refuses to wear make-up or cute clothing. However for “special’ events she will dress up and looks quite pretty, but does not want to hear it. She’d prefer to be a ninja warrior.
I would not change anything about Alex, ever. taken from http://downsyndrometeenager.blogspot.com/