A little girl proves she is more than just a number
As the day begins, teeth are brushed, shoes are put on, lunches are packed and the life of Shelby Brown begins. Shelby is 5 years old and the youngest member of the Brown Family, with mother Le Ann, father Adam and Brother Gavin 10. Shelby was diagnosed with Down Syndrome at birth. Down Syndrome also known as Trisomy 21 is a genetic chromosome disorder causing developmental and intellectual delays according to http://www.ndss.org/. Down syndrome continues to be the most common chromosomal disorder. Each year, about 6,000 babies are born with Down syndrome, which is about 1 in every 700 babies born, according to the CDC.
Shelby is currently enrolled in classes at Briarwood Elementary in Bowling Green, Ky. There she is enrolled in a traditional classroom environment as well as special learning classes where she is taught how to improve her motor and vocational functions. Since Shelby was old enough to be enrolled in classes she has been getting a traditional education as well as therapies coming from the buddy house as well as The Big Red School on WKU’s campus just to name a few.
Many of the therapy options that are available to children like Shelby have a very similar format in which they address learning strategies. According to the Big Red School, they provide early childhood services for children of all abilities. It is an inclusive environment that serves children with developmental delays and disabilities, as well as children who are typically developing.We provide adaptations and specialized interventions to ensure the success of all children. In terms of options available to children The Big Red School offers an organized learning environment.
However, there are other options that provide a more informal environment including Michelle P. Waiver. This program brings trained professionals in the homes of children.
Shelby had never been to any school setting before; according to Le Ann she was only comfortable with her and Adam or her grandmother. It took Shelby several weeks to warm up to the idea of school, but once she did, she loved going.
“I could mention the word school and she would go get her little backpack and was ready to go. The teachers and students are very patient with Shelby, they are very understanding and they are individuals with only the best interest of each child on their mind,” Le Ann said.
When Shelby started school she was nonverbal, she however did use basic sign language. The teachers worked with Shelby on not only expanding her signs, but also discovering her voice. Shelby is not a child that likes fine motor skills.
“Anything that requires Shelby to sit still for longer than 30 seconds is not something that Shelby wants to do,” Le Ann said. “Shelby is “Little Miss Center of Attention” and doesn’t meet a stranger. Shelby has overcome many hurdles in her little life, but even now at 5 and many semesters under her belt at Big Red School and other therapies, she still learns something new with each day she attends.”
As the years have progressed Shelby’s vibrant personality and love for life has greatly impacted the way that the brown family operates.
After having their first son Gavin the Brown family became accustomed to a certain type of living with regular scheduling and quiet nights. However, after having Shelby they realized that the life they had would soon be very different than expected.
Once Shelby began to get older the family realized that they were surrounded by other families in the community that were going through similar situations. However, they also realized that Shelby was going to have to live in a world where people were not completely understanding of what Down Syndrome really was.
The family has learned to over come their hardships and focus on making Shelby’s life as happy and normal as possible. With the good days come the bad days. Shelby is still a five year old girl who cries and gets in trouble. “I just leave her alone when she gets in one of her moods she can figure it out she’s a big girl,” Le Ann said.
As the years have progressed Le Ann noticed that she was raising a determined, vibrant and independent little girl. While the family has changed over the years, according to Le Ann they have been changing for the better.