My friend just had a baby-girl, a typical child, and everyone shouted:”she’s perfect, she is just perfect.”
My heart sank a little, because my little girl wasn’t perfect, you see, she was born with Down syndrome, which means she has many cognitive deficiencies and limitations.
I opened my dictionary and looked up the word “perfect.” It said: “conforming absolutely to a description or definition of an ideal type” or “entirely without any flaws, defects or shortcomings.” Now I felt even worse, all the while looking at my beautiful little Christina, who is so full of energy and life.
My friend’s typical baby conformed to a cultural ideal, and did not have any visible defects. “Perfection” stares us in the face every day like a vicious dragon. Just go to the grocery store and look at the magazines, where you can see perfect bodies, perfect hair, perfect nails and make-up, perfect homes and cars. Just follow advertisement, it will tell you what “perfect” means. Maybe this kind of thinking is ok when it comes to lifeless objects, but presents a problem when we start to treat human beings as if they are consumer products. Our value should not be measured by our beauty, health and fitness, our skills and productivity, because such thinking leads to destruction, such as depression, suicide, eating-disorders, perfectionism, and much more.
With such thinking, we are seeing the rise of a culture approving of Eugenics, the selective elimination of an unwanted person. We now have technology that allows us to see the unborn child, and doctors together with the parents decide which baby is perfect and which one is defective. Consequently most of the “defective” babies are being aborted.
Women abort for many different reasons: pressure from doctors and family, fear of the unknown, misinformation, and because children with a cognitive challenge can never achieve our cultural standard of a perfect life.
Even the Bible speaks of “being perfect, just like God in heaven is perfect.” But the root of the word perfect comes from the Greek word “telos’, meaning purpose or goal. Could it mean “become who you were created to be and fulfill your purpose on this earth?”
Limitations are part of being human. It means to acknowledge that we are vulnerable, needy, dependent and limited. Our perfection does not come from some kind of cultural ideal that is impossible to reach, and will ultimately destroy us. But instead, being perfect means acknowledging the need for one another, which makes us a community of giving and receiving, instead of valuing people on their productivity, as if they are consumer products. It is our limitations that can make us whole, and they help us to understand what it means to be Perfectly Human.
Beethoven gives Hope and Inspiration To Special Needs Families and To All Mankind…
The great Ludwig van Beethoven is an inspirational testament to what is possible in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Born in Bonn, Germany, on the 16th of December 1770, he was the second child of Johann and Maria Magdalena van Beethoven.
Beethoven’s father was a violent drunk who planned to turn his son into an investment and subjected him to ruthless discipline and severe physical abuse. Many times his father would come home late at night from his drinking bouts, rouse the sleeping child, and forced him to practice his exercises on the clavier. As a matter of fact, many experts believe that Beethoven’s deafness later in his life is related to and caused by the many blows to the head by his very violent father.
Beethoven’s childhood was darkened by poverty and his intemperate father, but his mother’s tenderness and affection brought some warmth into his life.
When he was only 17 years old, he was granted a trip to Vienna to meet the famous Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart was so impressed with Beethoven’s improvisations and said:”This young man will leave his mark on the world.” And So He Did!!!
Across these years of immense creativity there passed also the shadow of tragedy. Early in 1801, Beethoven had begun to detect that his hearing was failing him. As this infirmity developed, he became increasingly sensitive and tried to keep his deafness from even his close friends. He refused to appear in public, and thus his career as a pianist had been destroyed, and he now dedicated himself completely to composition.
Beethoven made his last public appearance on the 7th of May 1824, attending the premier of his Ninth Symphony. This symphony was written when Beethoven was completely deaf. It is the greatest composition in musical history. Beethoven used a chorus of singers with this work. No one before him had ever dared to break the rules of composition by adding singers to a symphony. At the end of the symphony, Beethoven, long stone deaf, continued to beat time to himself though the Symphony had concluded. Gently, one of the soloists turned him to face the audience to accept its ovation.
In 1826 Beethoven became very ill. On his last day at around 4 or 5 in the afternoon, it was storming and there was heavy thunder, Beethoven opened his eyes wide, he raised his right arm, his fist clenched, and stared for a few seconds with a proud and menacing gaze into the emptiness before him. On that day, 26th of March 1827, Ludwig van Beethoven died, leaving his mark of genius for all time.
Beethoven died in Vienna, and it is estimated that 10,000-30,000 people attended his funeral.
Beethoven belonged to the generation that received the full impact of the French Revolution. He was nourished by the vision of the freedom and dignity of the individual. He created music of a heroic age and never to be forgotten. His music proclaimed its faith in the power of man to shape his destiny. He revolutionized the way composers wrote their music He paved the way to new forms and expressions with dynamic contrasts, explosive accents, and opposition of low and high register, syncopation, and powerful crescendos. He simply dared to be different and didn’t care what anyone thought or said about him.
Beethoven forever changed the course of music history with his inspirational compositions. He wasn’t afraid to break the rules of composition and introduce something new and exciting.
Beethoven is the most famous and greatest classical composer who ever lived. He is remembered for his powerful genius and for composing the most intense and exciting music in history, while completely deaf. Even while his deafness worsened, Beethoven’s music became even more powerful. The best example of this is the Famous Symphony No. 5 with the Most Famous 4 Notes in Musical History.
His death marks the loss of one of the greatest composers and masters in all history. But his music was never forgotten and lives on forever for all of us to enjoy and cherish. He truly left us with unspeakable treasures, and he made his mark in the world. He was right: there are many kings, but there is only one Beethoven!!!
Beethoven’s life and music remind me so much of my own life as a mother of a special needs child: at times I feel angry, I feel sad; I feel tenderness, I rejoice in little victories. Sometimes I want to punch a hole in the wall, and sometimes I want to just enjoy nature and go on long walks.
Many times my life feels crazy and desperate. I feel inflicted, I feel that my child is inflicted, and I want to give up. Just like Beethoven wanted to give up and kill himself when he noticed that he was becoming deaf. Can you imagine? Music and Life without Beethoven? The treasures we would have missed! Praise God, he didn’t give up. Somehow and somewhere he found the strength to go on, and he turned his anger and sadness over his infliction into something so great, that it marked and changed history, he left us with unspeakable treasures.
Beethoven fought for the freedom and dignity of the individual, because in those days the people were ruled and oppressed by the king of the land. But isn’t that just like our special kids today? They are oppressed by lack of integration and lack of respect and understanding.
Beethoven represents an example and testament of what we as parents, as teachers, as care-givers of special children are called to do: We Are Called To Greatness!!! You Are Called To Greatness!!! We are called to stand up for those being crushed and be their voice, and not worry about what others say or think. We need to break the rules and get others to follow suit. Beethoven broke all the rules of composition and paved the way to the new. We need to stand up and get the public and the government to change their rules and judgments concerning “defective” babies. We as a society need to stop segregating special needs people. Life is of inestimable worth from conception to the grave, and abortion is never right, and treating people with special needs badly is never o.k. We need to pave the way to the new believe system, that all children are God’s creation and worthy of dignity, love and protection.
Be encouraged by Beethoven’s example. He is a great testament of what is possible despite unbelievable obstacles. If he can compose the greatest music in all history while completely deaf and while carrying the baggage of an extremely violent childhood, then you can find the strength and pursue your calling and live life on purpose.
Cancer and Down Syndrome
Experts claim, that people with Down syndrome hold the key to new drugs that fight cancer.
When I first heard this, I was like “What?” “How is that possible?” The answer lies in the extra chromosome 21, which gives the person an extra 231 genes. One such gene is called DSCR1, also known as RCAN1, which suppresses the growth of cancerous tumors by suppressing abnormal blood vessel growth.
Researchers suspect that there are four or five genes on chromosome 21 that work in concert with the protein DSCR1 to block cancer.
All this is nice to know, but on the other hand it angers me that people with Down syndrome are used like mice in a lab for this multibillion dollar business called “Finding the Cure for Cancer.” These cancer-scams are run by a bunch of mercenaries, who have no conscience, and are driven by greed, money and power. They need to be exposed!
Traditional cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation have been proven not to work. As a matter of fact, such treatments gradually kill the patient and lead to a very painful death, all in the name of advanced Western medicine.
On one hand there are large movements that want to get rid of children with Down syndrome before they are even born, and on the other hand those same mercenaries want to use the Down syndrome population for their experiments! Unbelievable!
Let me tell you a Secret: The Cure for Cancer is already here!!! It’s called eating mostly raw fruits and vegetables, and staying away from the “mortuary” in your grocery store. Stay away from refined sugars, flour, processed and fast foods. Don’t eat partially hydrogenated or genetically engineered foods. Eat organically grown fruits and vegetables. Eat seeds and nuts. Eat most everything as close to nature as possible, and the way God made it. Don’t adulterate your food. Make time for eating your meals properly, not inhale some fast-food junk on the run.
Educate yourself on what the food industry and the government are doing to us. Believe it or not, there is a politician in your kitchen! Watch the documentary: “Eating.” Eating the wrong foods are the biggest cause of disease, disabilities and death in the U.S. today.”
Don’t listen to your allopathic doctor who will say: “Oh, you have cancer, here let me poison you with radiation and chemo-therapy.” When someone has cancer, you don’t flood their body with dangerous chemicals that destroy the only chance the patient has. Those chemicals ruin the immune-system, which is the weapon to fight any illness and disease. You must support health. The doctor can’t heal you, your body has this amazing capability to heal itself when given the right environment. The doctor is only a guide, a teacher and here for your support, NOT the Almighty and the All-wise.
Start going to raw food support groups to learn how to prepare delicious raw meals and desserts, while getting educated and have a support system on your new journey to vibrant health.
Exercise regularly, drink clean water, make your home a calm haven, think happy thoughts, and pray a lot.
“Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.” Hippocrates
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” Albert Einstein
Daniela Clapp is now speaker at The ASMTA Conference 2012
The Arizona State Music Teachers Association is holding their annual state convention, The ASMTA Conference 2012 at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak in Phoenix from May 31, 2012, through June 2, 2012. You can see more at http://www.asmta.org/conferences.php
This year the ASMTA Conference is starring some big presenters, among them is the renowned Piano Teacher Daniela Clapp, who will introduce a whole new era in piano teaching, on Saturday June 2nd. from 2:45-3:45pm.
Daniela Clapp teaches children with Down syndrome how to play piano, and how to use the piano as a new form of therapy. This is a new and effective way to help kids with Down Syndrome and advocate for them. Daniela Clapp is presenting her teaching methods to all music teachers at the Arizona State Music Teachers Association Conference 2012.
Rhythm is the key element in music; it is what drives the music forward, like the gasoline of a car. The word rhythm comes from the Greek word ‘Rhein’ and means to flow. Rhythm happens when notes or sounds start and end. Some say that rhythm is the most important ingredient in music, because you can mix together any sound, but if there is no flowing rhythm, there is no music.
Why Does Rhythm Matter?
Rhythm does not just exist in music, but it is everywhere: the ebbing and flowing of the ocean, the planets orbiting the sun, night and day, speech, running, walking; the seasons have rhythm: spring, summer, autumn and winter; our own heart beats in a rhythm.
The rhythm section is the backbone of the band, just like our rhythmic routines are the backbone of our lives. Compare rhythm to the rails of a train. They provide a seamless track. If the rails are bad, the train can’t move forward. Same with music, if the rhythm is bad, the music falls apart. That is why musicians call a performance that fell apart a train-wreck.
Those are good reasons why practicing rhythm is so important, and should be part of the daily practice routine.
Rhythm is Here and There and Everywhere
Rhythm is vital, because when we understand it, we can understand ourselves. Everything that is beautiful has rhythm and order. Even infants and toddlers make up their own rhythmic patterns with their rattles and toys. But as we get older, and our lives become more and more fast paced, we become more and more out of sync with our natural internal rhythms. But rhythm is so important to our health.
Our internal rhythms, like our heartbeat, breathing, the rhythm of our thoughts, have a big impact on our lives physically, mentally and emotionally. Same with external rhythms, like day and night, the seasons, our actions, all shape our lives.
It has been discovered that percussion instruments, and yes, the piano is considered a percussion instrument, reinforce the principals of focus, perseverance, and victory. By playing a percussive instrument, such as a drum or the piano, the body’s natural disease-killers and antioxidants are increased. These very principals are fundamental for a successful and healthy life.
Rhythm creates order out of chaos!
The Magic Pill
If you couldgive your child a magic pill that would remove that extra chromosome, would you do it?
To tell you the truth, when my Christina was born, and I found out shortly after her birth that she has Down syndrome, I felt like I’ve been swallowed by darkness, and my only exit seemed to find THE CURE for Down syndrome. I was determined to make Christina “right, perfect and normal.” I was on a mission.
For the first year all I did was cry and every day grief knocked me over, and when I wasn’t crying, I was in front of the computer asking Google how to cure Down syndrome. I actually found some cure…or so I thought…something that was done in Mexico with side-effects that could result in death…oh my!!! Then I had this great idea to have surgery on Christina’s eyes, so they wouldn’t be so slanted anymore. Oh, by the way, I never had that surgery done on her. That thought was just part of my initial craziness to find THE CURE for Down syndrome.
But the bigger question is: Why do we always want to change everyone else and mold them into what we think is perfect, right and normal? Where are we getting our standards from? I wanted to change Christina because of my own ignorance, because of my believe that only smart and beautiful people are loveable and acceptable. Again what were my standards about beauty and intelligence? Where did I get them from? The Media? Teachers? Peers? Family? Friends? I thought Christina’s “defect” was a sign of a fallen and sinful world. How silly I was! The only sin here is how we respond towards someone who is different from us and how we treat them. Do we accept and love them just the way they are, or do we mistreat and reject them? Do we help or neglect them? Do I see and accept my little precious Christina just the way she is or do I see only her diagnosis?
As the years passed, I realized that I had to die to an old part of myself, a part that thought only productive, articulate, smart and beautiful people are deserving of love. I gave up trying to change Christina. I came to terms that it was impossible to extract that extra chromosome from every cell of her body, to change her entire molecular structure. I finally admitted my helplessness and stopped fighting with God, and accepted that God is sovereign no matter the situation. I read an Amish Proverb once, and it said:”God won’t lead you where his grace can’t keep you.” I began working on ME, and when I started to change ME, my pain and grief over my child born with Down syndrome disappeared. I also realized that shared intellect doesn’t matter all that much, that Christina would come alive in ways that are different from mine. But what began to matter was her presence and her love.
Life does not receive value according to what we can produce, or what academic degrees we have or how beautiful we are, but how much we can give and love and how much compassion and grace we can extend to those who are different from us.
None of us are perfect. We are human, and we are learning what it means to be compassionate and really love someone. We are given the chance to understand victory in Christ.
God Makes No Mistakes
By Daniela Clapp
Why would a merciful God so loving and kind leave my precious child mentally behind?
I count the chromosomes and in confusion look up at Heaven. “God, you made a mistake, there are forty seven.” With bitter, endless tears I pray, “Please God, take the extra chromosome away.”
My baby is broken, my pain is deep, my burden too heavy to bear. “God, do you even care?”
My Joy, my Happiness, my Dreams, all seem lost and gone, and my heart is too wounded to find the strength to go on.
Friends and Family come to see this brand new child, but my ocean of tears and my hurting soul abide.
The countless doctor visits begin, and again I ask God, “What did I do wrong to deserve such misery, where did I sin?”
On the operating table so helpless and small, my brand new baby needs open-heart surgery, but that is not all.
The journey continues through deep valleys and places unknown, with no way out, no exit in sight, and again I shook my fist at God and cried.
The tears are falling and falling all year long, but suddenly in the distance I hear a sweet song. Yes, a sweet song; yes my little dear child, it’s true, a bird was singing a beautiful song about you. It was the nightingale that woke me last night when all was still; it sang in the golden moonlight, from out the woodland hill. I opened my window so gently; I looked on the dreaming dew, and oh! The bird, my sweet angel, was singing, singing of you.
God smiled at me from Heaven above and whispered, “No need to despair, have faith and believe in the Power of Love.”
Dear God, now I can see your mighty hand’s work in all around me: the stream, the forest, the flowers, my brand new child, the stars above the blue. Oh Heaven itself, my sweet angel, is praying, praying for you.
God said, “This child is a gift, please trust in me, this child will love you like no one else can, for she loves unconditionally. I made no mistake, you see, everything is exactly the way it was meant to be!”
God brought my Miracle in disguise, you see.
Just look to God in Heaven above and start believing in the Power of Love!
Conservationists for Down syndrome – Saving the endangered Kiwis
Newsletter – December 2011
By Mike Sullivan
“People with Down syndrome may soon disappear from the face of the earth.” This was the introduction by Mike McRoberts to the 60 Minutes documentary “Down but not out” that aired in June this year. 60 Minutes revealed the Ministry of Health’s new antenatal screening programme would reduce the population of people with Down syndrome through disability selective abortion. The screening programme was introduced earlier this year without public consultation and the Ministry “did not bother” asking the opinion of anyone who has Down syndrome, about the programme.
Savingdowns spokesman, Mike Sullivan, featured in the 60 Minutes documentary. He said people with Down syndrome and other disabilities are human beings who live full and rewarding lives. “They must be treated on an equal basis with other members of our society, without any form of discrimination.”
Savingdowns is a group of 36 parents and siblings of people with Down syndrome. It was established this year in response to the new screening programme.
Complaint laid with the International Criminal Court
Savingdowns and Right to Life NZ lodged a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the Government’s screening programme in June 2011. The basis of the complaint is that the programme specifically targets and persecutes unborn children with Down syndrome and other rare genetic conditions, through the prevention of their births. This is in effect, an act of genocide and a crime against humanity, under Articles 6 and 7 of the Rome Statute. The Rome Statute forms the basis of operation of the ICC. The Court has confirmed that the complaint is being considered. New Zealand is party to the Rome Statute and is bound to comply with any ruling from the ICC.
The emphasis of the ICC complaint is on consequences and intent, with genetic screening and selective abortion being the means. The intent is to identify unborn children with Down syndrome, Spina Bifida and other conditions, so that births to the group can be prevented. Item 14 of the Memorandum to the Cabinet of the New Zealand government, dated 23 October 2007, detailed the purposes of the screening programme to include (emphasis added):
The purpose of screening is to provide women with information about their pregnancy to enable them to make informed choices. This information may help women to….(Second bullet) decide whether to continue with or terminate the pregnancy.
The consequence of the screening programme is that a substantial part of the group is being systematically destroyed.
Item 28 of the Memorandum to Cabinet states (emphasis added):
“There is the potential for activities associated with improving the quality of antenatal screening for Down syndrome to have a negative impact on people with disabilities, including:”…. (Fourth bullet) ”decrease in the number of babies born with Down syndrome. International experience suggests that as a result of screening and diagnostic tests, up to 90 percent of women who receive an antenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome will choose to terminate their pregnancies.”
In effect, the screening programme facilitates genocidal acts against the group, with abortion being the means of perpetrating those acts. The intent and consequences are the same as those that occurred during the Nazi genocide where the disabled where the first group targeted for sterilisation and “euthanasia” (read killing) under the Racial Hygiene programme. Members of the Third Reich were found guilty of charges of crimes against humanity at Nürnberg for these very actions against children with Down syndrome and Spina Bifida. Now, in New Zealand, the government is promoting, facilitating, financing and tolerating measures intended to prevent births of the same group of people. Therefore, our government is implicated in the making of a biological genocide towards that group of people. As was the case in Germany, the New Zealand screening programme is carried out under the guise of being legal under domestic law.
Other areas of advocacy
Whilst awaiting the outcomes of the ICC application, Savingdowns is being active in other important areas of advocacy around this issue. This includes raising awareness around the rapidly emerging biological genocide of routine genetic pregnancy screening and disability selective abortion.
Savingdowns recently launched a web site that provides static information on their work. A Facebook page has also be used as a social media tool to provide for discussion and sharing of information internationally. Both of these tools are proving to be very successful.
Feedback from disability advocacy groups within New Zealand and worldwide is that the issue is rapidly gaining traction and support. There is certainly much interest in the outcomes of the ICC case.
Diane Belcher and Mike Sullivan gave presentations at the Voice for Life National Conference in Wellington in November as part of our ongoing awareness campaign.
Other specific areas of advocacy are covered below.
NZDSA position statements on screening for Down syndrome
The NZDSA is recommending two new position statements on screening for Down syndrome, one for prenatal screening and one for pregnancy termination. These have gone out to all NZDSA members for feedback.
The proposed position statement on prenatal screening includes the wording:
The NZDSA advocates that the primary goal of prenatal screening should not be to reduce the birth prevalence of Down syndrome in the population, but rather to improve prenatal health care and delivery care for the mother and baby.
The proposed position statement on termination is:
These statements are significantly stronger in providing clear advocacy for life for those with Down syndrome and opposition towards discrimination. This is a huge step forward and the NZDSA are to be congratulated for this initiative.
Savingdowns has positively contributed towards this achievement through the significant media exposure of the 60 Minutes documentary “Down but not out” and the lodging of the formal complaint with the ICC.
The Ministry of Health
Savingdowns recently meet with officials from the Ministry of Health who are involved with the screening programme. They were Dr Pat Tuohy, a specialist paediatrician who is the Chief Advisor Child Health and Jane McEntee, Manager Antenatal and Newborn Screening of the National Screening Unit. Although they were not prepared to have the ICC issue on the table, they were willing to reconsider other important issues that relate to the information they have produced about prenatal screening.
There was acknowledgement that the current consumer resources were not acceptable. These are now being revised to provide balanced, accurate, positive and non-discriminatory information around the conditions being screened for.
The Ministry has agreed to work on an initiative to up-skill the training of medical students to reflect positive lived experiences around the conditions being screened for.
There has been an acknowledgement of the need to involve people with Down syndrome, Spina Bifida and other conditions in decisions around screening that affect them.
There was general agreement to change the referral system for positive diagnosis. The plan is to include referrals to a Paediatrician with direct experience in the condition concerned and also to a family with a member with the condition concerned.
The Human Rights Commission
It was also agreed with the Ministry of Health that Savingdowns would approach the Human Rights Commission (HRC) to convene a meeting with the government ministries concerned to discuss areas of the screening programme that breach international humanitarian law and the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD).
Savingdowns have subsequently met with the newly appointed Chief Human Rights Commissioner, David Rutherford. He is a sports and commercial lawyer who has had extensive experience in disability work and was on the International Board responsible for organizing the Special Olympics. He was previously the CEO of the New Zealand Rugby Union.
As a result of that meeting, Savingdowns and a number of other disability advocacy groups, including Down Syndrome International, the Spina Bifida Association of New Zealand and the International Federation for Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus, will be lodging a formal submission that reviews the compatibility of the screening programme with the CRPD and human rights law more generally. People First NZ Inc, DPA NZ and the NZDSA are also currently considering whether to join this initiative.
Savingdowns is requesting that the policy for antenatal screening for disabilities be reviewed against New Zealand’s obligations under the CRPD. From this we are advocating that an action plan be developed and implemented to address all aspects of the screening programme that are in conflict with the CRPD.
Savingdowns is asking that the HRC take a proactive role in this process.
It is also expected that the New Zealand situation will be reported to the UN committee on the CRPD when the New Zealand country report is presented, probably during 2012. This will be through the submission of an independent “shadow report” from the disability advocacy groups that are involved in this initiative.
Further information on saving Down syndrome is available on their web site and facebook page.
Process almonds and dates and press into pie pan. Blend ½ of the apples with rest of the filling ingredients. Pour into a bowl and set aside. Slice up the remaining apples into slivers. Add to bowl and mix well. Pour into crust.
2 Cups fresh cranberries
1 orange, peeled
1 apple, quartered
1 Cup dates, pitted
Water for consistency
Blend cranberries, orange, apple and dates and add water for a smoother consistency.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.”
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”
Our children with Down syndromeare not a mistake or a fluke of nature. God made no mistake when he created my little Christina or your child born with Down Syndrome. He sprinkled those children in our midst to teach us what life and love are really all about. Christina will never be a nuclear physicist, or a great mathematician, or a famous writer or speaker, but she can do what you and I can never do: she can love you unconditionally. She can give you affection even if you are in the eyes of modern society and today’s media and standards undesirable and ugly. She does not care if you are a king or a popper, rich, poor, beautiful or ugly; she only looks at your heart: are you good or bad? Are you kind or plastic or fake nice. She senses what is truly in your heart. She knows when you are hurting and need comfort. She will stop and comfort you even when everyone else would just pass you by and not give a care. But isn’t that how our God is? He looks into our heart, not to our outward appearance or social status or accomplishments. He loves us, even if we don’t deserve it. So children with Down syndrome are mirrors of love, compassion and forgiveness. They mirror the essence of God.
People with Down-syndrome are more alike than different from us.. They have feelings and emotions, just like the rest of us. They get angry and they feel sadness. They understand when we are talking negatively about them; just they don’t have the verbal or mental skills to defend themselves. When we talk about their limited possibilities and categorize them, it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy. Whatever you hold in your mind will occur in your life. So don’t criticize them or compare their life with your life or to what you think is normal, because you have no idea what their journey, and their purpose is all about. Remember, God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called! Let me tell you a little story about that:
Wishing to encourage her young son’s progress on the piano, a mother took her boy to a Paderewski concert. After they were seated, the mother spotted a friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her. Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy rose and eventually explored his way through a door marked …
When the house lights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that the child was missing.
Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage. In horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy’s ear, “Don’t quit … Keep playing.”; Then leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in the bass part. Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child and he added a running obbligato. Together, the old master and the young novice transformed a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. The audience was mesmerized.
That is the way it is with our Heavenly Father. What we can accomplish on our own is hardly noteworthy. We try our best, but the results aren’t exactly graceful flowing music. But … with the hand of the Master, our life’s work truly can be beautiful.
You have no right to judge people with Down syndrome or to shun them. They have the same feelings and needs that you as a typical person have. They need to be loved and included. They like to please and get praise. They like to socialize and feel like they belong. They can learn, but need more time and an extra measure of grace. So next time when a child with Down-Syndrome is in your classroom or in your midst, make them feel included, and explain to the rest of the children that God made everyone special and different, and that we are to accept and respect everyone, just the way they are, and treat them with dignity. Isn’t that what life is really all about? Isn’t that what God calls us to do? Or is it about racing against each other, and the one with the most toys wins? Let me tell you something: when you are dead, your hearse will not be followed by a Rider Truck with all your toys and belongings in it, unless you are an Egyptian King, getting buried with all your stuff and even your slaves in your Pyramid.
So let’s re-define the word “winning”: it’s about defying the odds and finding joy in every moment. It is about the fortitude of the human spirit. Maybe the odds are stacked against our children with Down syndrome or they are stacked against you, but what the odds don’t know is, that this isn’t a math test. This is a completely different kind of test, one where passion has a funny way of trumping logic. Helen Keller once said:”It isn’t enough to give the disabled life, but they must be given a life worth living.
So why then are we so afraid to face adversity and afraid to include people with special needs? It’s because of the Unknown, and we are afraid for our own comfort and safety. If a captain were worried about the safety of his ship, he would leave it in the harbor. But that is not what ships are meant for, they were meant to sail to the open sea, and discover new lands.
Children with Down syndrome are not a mistake or a fluke of nature, but one of God’s most precious and beautiful creations. God has a very specific purpose and plan for them as well.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it well.” ~ Psalm 139:13
With all my Love and Heart,
Music Transforms You,
Can Birds Fly?
My little daughter Christina who has Down syndromewas playing in the backyard
today with her younger sister Maria. Suddenly the girls came running in, telling me “Mom, a little green bird is stuck in the tree and cannot fly anymore.” So I went outside to look at this bird. Indeed, there was a very pretty little green bird stuck between the dividing trunk of one of our Mesquite trees. I picked up this bird, took it inside the house and offered the exhausted little thing some water, which it drank eagerly. I found an extra shoe-box, laid some paper-towels inside and carefully placed the bird inside this box. The girls stayed with the bird while I started to make some phone calls, trying to figure out how to help this little creature.
A few hours later the bird died mysteriously, and Christina and Maria were so sad. In order to divert their attention, I asked Maria to continue with her homeschooling writing exercises, and I took Christina to the piano for her daily piano practice.
After playing a couple of her favorite songs, I tried to reinforce the concept of Low and High on the keyboard. To illustrate this and get her to understand this concept, I asked her a bunch of questions like: can cats fly High in the air or are they Low on the ground? Of course her response was “no, cats don’t fly, they are Low on the ground.” Then I asked:”Can ducks fly High Up?” Yes. “Can chickens fly High Up? Yes. “Can birds fly High Up?” Christina’s response was:”No mom, the bird is dead and cannot fly, poor birdie.”…..her answer startled me a little, and I thought to myself ‘What a precious and caring and truthful answer she had.” That is how our kids with Down syndrome are, very caring and loving, always concerned for the wellbeing of others.
I finished Christina’s piano lesson with her new favorite tune “Little Train”
where at the end she gets to blow into a wooden whistle that sound just like a real train. I am amazed how fast and well she is learning all those little piano tunes. It just goes to show, kids with Down syndrome CAN learn to play the piano!!!
Music Transforms You,
Music sharpens our brains, heightens our sense of awareness and helps develop an appreciation for beauty and value. Children who are involved in music have better skills. They are more disciplined, patient, respectful, and dedicated. Music enables them to succeed in all their endeavors. We remain for all our lives sensitive to the power of music: it holds the key to solving seemingly insurmountable challenges and obstacles. In times of difficulty, the arts become more vital to the human condition. Through the arts we honor our past, celebrate our present and dream of our future.
Now that the importance of music in our lives has been established, lets take a detailed look at how piano lessons will affect a child:
Piano Lessons Help Children in School
Research on neurological development shows that the earlier children begin to play the piano, the deeper the neural coding will be. Those children will score higher on both the standard and spatial cognitive tests. They score higher in math than their peers, especially on problems dealing with ratios and fractions.
Music Transforms You,
First we have to examine what ornamentation really is. It means adding notes to a melody to allow music to be more expressive. We also call this “embellishment.” We use embellishments to emphasize a note and to prolong its length, because the earliest pianos didn’t have the ability to sustain sound.
The Baroque Era was dominated by Johan Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). So we trace ornamentation starting in the baroque era, because not much music is available before that time. An ornament is a set of extra notes associated with the main note. They make music more expressive, because they create a dissonant sound that resolves to the consonant sound of the main note. This creates tension and relief. Ornaments can be written in several ways. The most basic of all ornaments is the appoggiatura. Also there is the Mordent, the Turn and the Trill. In the Baroque Era the trills begin on the auxiliary note, rescolving to the main note. In the Classical Era, a turned ending became more common, but starting the trill on the upper auxiliary note continued. In the Romantic Era, some started the trill on the main note to prevent blurring the melodic or harmonic outlines. Romantic trills may begin on the auxiliary note or on the main note. So, having a choice caused confusion because it was not immediately clear or obvious to the performer whether to begin on the auxiliary note or on the main note. But to clarify this confusion, ornaments must be played according to the composer’s intentions and conventions of the era in which the music was written.