Jill's story - written by her mother, Donna:
Jill was born in 1964 (back in the dark ages of mental retardation). She was not diagnosed with Down Syndrome until she was 3 months old. There were no tests back then to determine this condition, but we knew she had a developmental disability from birth. Parents just know these things sometimes, don't they?
On a visit to the the pediatrician at 3 months of age, the doctor picked up Jill under her arms. She slipped right through his hands. He said, "Yes, I believe she is retarded. Now, you will need to decide what to do with her. I must advise you that she will probably never be able to walk or talk. Most certainly not be able to read or write. I would advise you to put her in an institution."
I replied, "We have had her as part of our family for 3 months and have learned to love her and see potential in her. We will keep her in our home!"
Jill had a fairly normal life growing up. She just did things a little slower than most kids. She not only learned to walk and talk, but learned to read and write, ski, roller skate, dance, and play the piano. She rode the bus downtown to her job at a bank for several years.
She began taking piano lessons at age 16. We realized the talent she had when she sat at the piano and played melodies with her right hand. It was time for piano lessons! I asked a former student of my husband (who was a music teacher) if she knew of a college student who needed the money and would be willing to take Jill as a piano student. To my surprise she said, "I would!" Jill took lessons for several years, learned to read music and even learned to memorize everything she played.
To this day she practices a half hour every day except Sunday. She has had the opportunity to play all over the state, for many schools, at weddings and parties and at the state fair. We have always had the philosophy that Jill can do anything anyone else can do - it just might take her a little longer. I'm so glad we decided to keep her out of an institution!
***I'll be passing along any kind comments that you have to share with Donna and Jill.***