This month, I wanted to share a message from my daughter about my grandsons. A little insight into our family’s inspiration.

Lately I have had several people comment about how well behaved and independent Matt and Miah are for having Down Syndrome. I agree they are very polite, well-mannered and independent young men who happen to also have Down Syndrome. Since the day each one came into my life, they have always been treated as individuals, not “special individuals”. I set expectations in regards to behavior and treated them just like any other child. I follow the teachings of my parents believing that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

Growing up my parents worked in institutions, so being around individuals who were different than me was the norm. I never saw my parents treat the individuals they worked with as “special”. They simply treated everyone with the same level of dignity and respect human beings deserve and that same philosophy still holds true today with Matt and Miah. Down syndrome has never been an excuse for poor behavior or bad manners. Don’t get me wrong, I always understood that somethings might take longer for them to learn, and often they are going to have their own way of learning or doing things, but Matt and Miah are not disabled just differently abled. It is the mutual respect and high expectations that has helped my boys develop into such amazing young men. It is truly an honor to be Matt and Miah’s mom. They both have such an amazing love for life and people.

Miah is so very gentle with little children and loves to take care of and help others. He keeps everyone he meets laughing with his antics. He has a great self-esteem and believes he is capable of anything he sets his mind to do.

Then there is my Mattie boy. I often wish I could just be inside his head to know what he really thinks and understands. For example, this morning I walked into his room to find him engrossed in his Bible. It was such a blessing. I know many of you reading will think so, my teenager reads his Bible also, and the difference is that Matt can’t actually read. Not only does Matt have Down Syndrome, but according to doctors his eye-site is minimal; yet there he was searching his Bible. Matt loves church and is always excited to go sing about Jesus and God. He always tells everyone he sees Good Morning and welcome to Fellowship, such an unconditional loving spirit. I truly believe that Matt hears from God in his own way.

Sometimes when people hear that I have two sons with special needs, they respond with what a great person I am for adopting and raising them. But I have to say it is Matt and Miah who are Great. They have taught me more than I can ever teach them. They have proven to me time after time to not underestimate what they can do. When a person strives to accomplish a goal and sees themselves making progress self-esteem is enhanced. I have often heard that success that breeds success, but failure also leads to success when one keeps trying. Whether it is an individual with special needs or any other human being as long as one never gives up success will be achieved.

For if we shoot for the moon and miss….. we still land among the stars.

Randel C. Goad – Mandt Faculty Supervisor