Category Archives: Anecdotes

Raising Expectations

Today I was doing evaluations over Skype with one of my second-generation NACD families in Alaska. The mom of the three kids I was evaluating today is a physician, and back in the 80s was one of a group of little kids I used to see up in Anchorage. Talking to Chrystal, who is like family as many of our long term folks are, reminded me of one of the other little girls I saw back then. Carrie gave me one of my favorite NACD kid memories. Carrie’s mom had picked me up at the airport and was taking me to my hotel, and little 5-year-old Carrie was in the back seat. Carrie’s mom asked her to tell me what her two new words for the week were. Carrie responded with her very cute, but sophisticated, five-year-old voice that I can still hear. She said, “Bob, my two new words for the week are ‘obstreperous’ and ‘ebullient’.” I was obviously quite pleased and said, “Carrie, I love your new words; so tell me, are you obstreperous or ebullient?” She responded with, “Well, Bob, sometimes I’m obstreperous and sometimes I’m ebullient, but right now I’m rather tranquil.”

Don’t underestimate your children. They are capable of producing great things if you keep raising your expectations and providing them with a chance.

Just the Way You Are

I just received this wonderful video today and wanted to share it. Steve Pankratz, an NACD dad in Bulgaria, unbeknownst to me wrote and performed this song about his son, Jaden, for an NACD Bulgarian Down Syndrome Conference last year. Steve and his wife, Tanja, organized this conference and made it possible for our staff to have the opportunity to address a large group of parents and professionals in Bulgaria over Skype. Steve and Tanja have really been helping to educate folks in Bulgaria about the potential of our children with Down Syndrome.

The interest and need in their part of the world is such that I’m delighted to be going over to Bucharest this May to see our great dedicated families from Romania, Bulgaria, and throughout the region. NACD has been very well received there, and we are seeing some really great changes with the kids. Great parents, like Steve and Tanja, who love and believe in the potential of their children are the same everywhere, and all of us at NACD feel very privledged and honored to be able to give them some help and guidance in their journey. Thanks to the Pankratz family for sharing this beautifully personal video with all of us.

It Appears That

As a scientist, educator, and child developmentalist, I would like to have every statement that I make be preceded by the words, “It appears that.” In my work with children, adults, and families, I attempt to use these words often, or at least to state things in such a way as to imply that “it appears that,” rather than stating things as fact. Stating ideas as fact, unfortunately, is what is generally done, and it tragically leads people to many dead ends and often to harmful interventions and negative results.

“It appears that” is synonymous with “intuitively,” “plausibly,” “possibly,” “supposedly,” “most likely,” and “probably.” My criterion for making a statement is that I have personally observed and objectively evaluated the effects, results, or outcomes numerous times. As a clinician/scientist I attempt to question everything, and when I feel I have sufficient data, I qualify my opinion with, “It appears that.”

When I was a child, my father, a physiatrist (a physician/M.D. specializing in rehabilitation) and a pioneer in human development, would use me as a sounding board and invite me to challenge the new concepts and methodologies he and his teams would investigate or develop. He actually valued input that was just based on naïve natural questioning and founded upon a premise of, “Does this make sense?” I suspect not many ten-year-olds back in the 50s, or today for that matter, had a relationship with their fathers that was built largely on discussions of neuroplasticity, brain injury, and human potential. My father gave me many gifts; but one of the most important was an understanding that there are very few “truths,” and that to move the science and knowledge base forward you need to challenge not only the status quo, but everything, no matter how strongly it appears to be true. He also helped me understand that formal research, when it comes to most things that affect people, is at best questionable. One can generally find research that can support either side of a hypothesis. Just because someone claims, “The research says,” or, “This is based on research,” it does not make it true. We can still only honestly say, “It appears that.”

Happy New Year!

I would like to wish you all a very happy New Year.

The new year offers us the opportunity to reset, to get our priorities in order, to rededicate ourselves, and to take a deep breath. Part of taking that deep breath should involve looking at our children and our lives without the baggage of last year. Start the year enjoying each day, enjoying your children and your lives. There is work to do–welcome it, don’t fear it. I look at every child that we impact through NACD as an opportunity to help build a life. You can work to help your children become all that they can be and enjoy them as well. I carry around thousands of snap shots in my mind, snapshots of your children. Most are smiling, some are inquisitive, some have a look of wonder. Others include snapshots of those precious moments where we can see in and begin to discover who they are.

My snapshots are all of moments I have shared with your children where I can see them, see who they are, and see their potential and their future as truly unique people.

Let’s hit 2013 running, working together, and smiling because we are together sharing the opportunity to help put more smiles on more faces and help our kids.

Please watch the video on the link below. A very dear friend and NACD mom, Gloria Lindsay, sent this message to me.