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Readers' Choice: Favorite New Special-Needs Parenting Book

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Finalist: Down Syndrome Parenting 101
Down Syndrome Parenting 101 by Natalie Hale
Cover image courtesy of Woodbine House

Title: Down Syndrome Parenting 101
Subtitle: Must–Have Advice for Making Your Life Easier
Author: Natalie Hale
Length: 240 pages
Website: www.woodbinehouse.com

WINNER, Favorite New Special-Needs Parenting Book

Message from the Author: "I'm a mom, educator, and author, and this new book is my wisdom and love offering to help parents who walk the path I have walked with my son Jonathan for the last 27 years. It is a book full of information, humor, and tons of practical advice. It is intended to do exactly what the subtitle says: make your life easier. And richer. I wrote the book as if I were sitting face to face over a mocha latte with each of my readers. It's straight from my heart and brain to yours. I offer you insight, laughter, and comfort -- not to mention advice that actually works. I show you a view of our children with Down syndrome as the amazingly perceptive teachers (and sometimes crazy-making individuals) that they really are, and how to keep the journey beautiful."

Excerpt from Down Syndrome Parenting 101:

From the penultimate chapter, "Dance and Drum"

"Dance and Drum"

Say that phrase quickly, again and again.

Now you can see why Jonathan was so easily confused as a child: he thought he had "Dance and Drum."

Well, yes, he does.

And we would do well to go with the program and realize that our children do indeed have Dance and Drum. Have you ever seen a child, teen, or adult with Down syndrome dance? I rest my case...

...So what can we learn from our Dance and Drum children? I think Adam Beck, a young man with Down syndrome, said it best, years ago. Martha Beck tells the story of her son Adam when he was twelve. It was the day after 9/11, when the world was stunned into stillness and grief.

Martha was at her computer, working under a writing deadline for her regular article in O, The Oprah Magazine. Urgently trying to distill her own thoughts and insights about an event that was incomprehensible, she sat at the keyboard.

At that moment, Adam came up to her with a request that was at once typical of any teenager, but wildly out of place in the world scene at that moment. "Mom, I found new dance videos. Get them for me? I want to learn some cool new moves."

Martha looked at Adam with a mixture of intimate concern and disbelief. "Adam, do you understand what's happened? Do you know what happened yesterday at the World Trade Centers?"

"Yes."

"Well, what do you think about that?" She wanted more of his thoughts, more of his vision. This is the young man Martha calls her "portable Zen master," so his thoughts count. She waited.

When he knew, he said quietly, "We have to keep dancing."

Well said, Adam.

Whether it's Dance and Drum or Down syndrome or any other challenge, grief, or joy, we just have to keep on dancing. And if you dance holding the hand of a child with Down syndrome, I can guarantee that you'll be led through more unexpected moves and laughter than you ever thought possible.

Just keep dancing.

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