Each birthday my son celebrates, I find myself looking back to the memorable times in Tim’s life. Even though it was difficult to find out that Tim had Down syndrome, the period that always comes to mind is the days that we spent at the MARC Early Intervention Program (now would be The Arc Alliance Children’s Services). Back when he was in the program it was center based so we went to a church in Norristown. Interacting with other children in class and having his individual therapies was so valuable to who Tim has become today. He worked very hard to learn new skills and make his body stronger. The word that never came to mind was LAZY. Tim was a very determined little boy that grew stronger each week that he was in the program.
The staff at the program were top notch. They took the time to explain to me everything they were doing and teach me what I needed to do at home. They became an extended part of my family and I trusted them to help Tim be the best he could be. One therapist coached me to let him do things himself, that would assure that he would grow up to be independent. So when he started to walk and he would fall I would wait for him to figure out how to get up instead of rushing over to help. The more I allowed him to do the more he did for himself.
When he went to day care the one teacher made a comment to me that I was the only parent that made my child carry his own things into the school. I told the teacher that the lunch and bag Tim carried were his things and he needed to learn to be responsible for them. Tim wanted to do things for himself and my husband and I made every effort to instill independence into our son. We could not have done this journey without our EI team. When we felt lost they showed us the way to encourage Tim to work hard and reach his goals.
Tim did many things while growing up that still amaze me. When we joined a new church the minister took me aside and told me that he wanted to teach Tim to be an acolyte. I was a little nervous but knew that he had the support to succeed. He was involved in Special Olympics and was asked to be the representative for Pennsylvania for the Special Olympics Congress when he was in high school. He flew to Kansas City, MO with his coach and his Best Buddy. Tim has done so many things that just amaze us, we look back to the coaching that we got at MARC and know that that is where it all started.
Also in high school, Tim was fortunate to get assigned a wonderful Supports Coordinator, Keith Kercher (The Arc Alliance) who helps Tim get the resources, plans his future goals and helps him make the right choices in his everyday life. Keith has been such a valuable addition to our team making Tim the best he can be. He knows Tim well and can push him in areas where he knows he can be better. Sometime Tim grumbles as he says “Keith is like having a second Dad!!!” He needs a lot of guidance to assure that he will be the best he can be.
Today Tim is turning 25 years old and he has become such a special young man. He has a job, plays Special Olympics basketball, is in Harmony Theater and has a very nice girlfriend. He does not let anything get in the way of his goals. Recently Tim even gave blood for the first time. He was proud of himself as he was scared but knew that this was an important thing that he could do for others. Never underestimate what the special needs community can do—they are an amazing group of people and I am proud to call myself Tim’s Mom.
By: Carol Lawrence