An hour with Penny

Encountering Down syndrome

There were five of us around the table: my husband, myself, my mother, and two medical students who had been assigned to dinner at our house. One of them said, “My parents always wanted more for me—a better education than they had, and a better job, and a higher salary. A better life. So isn’t it hard to have a child with a disability? Don’t you want so much more for her?”

These young men were in the midst of a pediatric rotation, and they had one day to learn about children with disabilities. They had arrived at our house in the late afternoon. Penny, our three-year-old daughter, who has Down syndrome, greeted them. “Hi,” she said, her neck craning to see their faces. Soon enough they were sitting cross-legged on the floor, with Penny pouring tea and offering “tookies.”


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