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The Special Issue

Uya Uya A Buya

When my son Bobby was born in 1954, they didn't tell me he was a Down's Syndrome.
Κείμενο MRS. BIRD

Photo by Terry Richardson.

When my son Bobby was born in 1954, they didn’t tell me he was a Down’s Syndrome. I didn’t know until about a year later. He got measles and had to go back into the hospital. The doctor said to me, "I didn’t think you’d even take him home," but I did take him home, and he’s still here today. Bob didn’t go to regular schools. He can’t talk. They wouldn’t take him in regular schools. The first place he went to was on Martha’s Vineyard. They came to the house and interviewed him and us and back and forth, etc. They didn’t want to take him in school. They said he was no good to anybody, and we should just put him in an institution. This was about four years after he was born. We went to the institution and they told us we would be doing the wrong thing by putting him there. They said they wouldn’t do anything for him and he would just be sitting there doing nothing. So we took him home and we brought him up as best we could. We didn’t like doing what these people told us. We wanted him to be with other kids, but there wasn’t much we could do, because they didn’t have anything in Swansea, where we live, that could take Bobby. It was unfortunate, because he gets along well with people. When he was a kid nobody wanted to come near him or play with him or anything. Even the adults had problems. The people next door put a fence up so he wouldn’t go in their yard. They were afraid of him. When I used to take Bobby to the grocery store when he was a kid, kids would make fun of him and the parents would never correct them. I think the parents should have said, "He wasn’t born like you, but you have to accept the way he is." Everyone told me Bobby would never be able to communicate, but I understand him fine. We were told he wouldn’t live very long, but he’s 48 now and doing fine. I’m not saying it’s easy, but my advice to parents of kids with disabilities is accept it and go from day to day. Keep them at home. They’ll be a lot better off than they would be in an institution. You’re better off bringing them up yourself. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s how I feel.