17 Things I have Learned in 17 Years

NOTE: October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Emir, Eliana and Ayelen

An OSERS Guest Blog post by Eliana Tardio, a mother with two children with Down syndrome. She also wrote a Guest Blog about her and her children in October 2016.

Leer en español.

17 years ago, I was blessed to give birth to my first child, Emir. He was diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome but it was not until the moment that I held him in my arms that I realized one of the most powerful truths I share with new parents of kids with Down syndrome: He was simply perfect, and even though, I tried really hard to see the syndrome, all I was able to see was the most beautiful child of the world: my child.

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17 cosas que he aprendido en 17 años

NOTA: Octubre es el mes de concientización sobre el síndrome de Down

Emir, Eliana y Ayelen

Una publicación del blog invitado de OSERS por Eliana Tardio, una madre con dos hijos con síndrome de Down. También escribió un blog invitado sobre ella y sus hijos en octubre de 2016.

Read in English.

Hace 17 años, tuve la suerte de dar a luz a mi primer hijo, Emir. Le diagnosticaron síndrome de Down en el útero, pero no fue hasta el momento en que lo sostuve en mis brazos que me di cuenta de una de las verdades más poderosas que comparto con los nuevos padres de niños con síndrome de Down: era simplemente perfecto. Y aunque me esforcé mucho por ver el síndrome, todo lo que pude ver fue al niño más hermoso del mundo: mi hijo.

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We Can Do Virtually Anything

Courtney Hansen

NOTE: October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

A guest blog by Courtney Hansen, Special Education Advocate

Courtney is a non-attorney special education advocate. She advocates at the local, state, and national level for disability rights, and blogs about it at www.inclusionevolution.com


I first shared our family’s story on this blog two years ago. A lot has changed since then, although many things remain the same.

My now 8-year-old twin boys, one who has Down syndrome and the other typically developing, are still included in the same general education class. They still love playing sports together, and our family still leans on our “village” of teachers, therapists, and friends to move forward. Still, this year’s COVID-19 pandemic has set us on a trajectory of change and uncertainty that often feels unsustainable.

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Laying Educational Foundations

NOTE: October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Rebecca Newlon

Rebecca Newlon

By Chris and Rebecca Newlon

When Rebecca, my daughter who has Down syndrome, began kindergarten, I never dreamed that the day-to-day hammering out of details with her general education teacher would lay the foundation we would continue to utilize to this day now that Rebecca is a junior in high school.

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October and Disability Awareness — 2019

ICYMI "In Case You Missed It!"

Throughout October, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services highlighted aspects of disability awareness for national disability employment, dyslexia, learning disabilities, ADHD and Down syndrome.

Check out the stories below.

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My Ever-Evolving Journey: Mom, Advocate, Board of Education Member

Note: October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Dria, Mom and Sister

by Dria Law, Moorestown, N.J.


I am the mom of two teenaged girls, one of whom has a disability.

My youngest daughter, Julianna, or Juls for short, was born with Down syndrome, and like many parents of a child with a disability, I found myself thrust into a whole new world. This world revolved around early intervention services, medical appointments, and learning as much as I possibly could about Down syndrome. I was discovering early-on that not only would I need to be Jul’s parent, but also her advocate.

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“I Deserve to be Me!” A Mother and Daughter Reflect on School Days and Plans for the Future

Delaney, a self-advocate with Down syndrome, and her mother Emily.

Blog by Delaney and Emily Dunigan


Emily’s words: 

When our daughter Delaney was born with Down syndrome in 1998, two of our first wishes for her as parents were to be happy and to have friends.  She has both so far, and so much more!

As her mother, I believe that everyone should have the chance to succeed in school, and I am grateful for the experiences and education that have gotten Delaney to where she is today.

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I Can Do Anything: Learning Job Basics and Preparing for the Future

NOTE: October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Theo Brooks

By Theo Brooks


When I lost my job in the food industry, I didn’t know what to do. Without my job, I was feeling defeated. I was frustrated that the job I enjoyed and looked forward to was gone.

I stopped by INCLUDEnyc, which my mom found, that helps young people with disabilities like me and their families. One of their youth educators spoke to me and gave me an assessment. From that point, I started to feel more optimistic that I had opportunities.

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Blue, Purple and Green: How I Color Coded my Child Into Middle School

Note: October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Zoe – my color coded sixth grader with mosaic Down syndrome

Zoe – my color coded sixth grader with mosaic Down syndrome

By Suzanne Wingard, Director of Training, Family Connection of SC


Color has always been a part of organization in my life – from taking notes in school to sorting training handouts at work. It has visually simplified even the most complex tasks mainly because I am a visual learner. Luckily, so is my daughter.

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Ruby’s Story: Inclusion, Self-Advocacy, and a Future that Could Include College

Note:  October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Ruby stands on stage with a microphone waving to the crowd during NW Buddy Fest 2018

Ruby stands on stage with a microphone waving to the crowd during NW Buddy Fest 2018

By Maria Rangel, Ruby’s mother


My daughter Ruby and I share a love for taking pictures on our phones and capturing memories. We have hundreds of photos of things we did this summer.

One morning as she was getting ready to go to her first day of eighth grade, she asked me to print some pictures on her phone, I said “no, later when you come back from school.”

She then insisted.

“Now for school. Share,” she said.

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