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Down Syndrome Blessings – Living an Extraordinary Life

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Down Syndrome Blessings – Living an Extraordinary Life

May 20
08:41 2024

The following is an excerpt from the new book, Blessed with Extraordinary… Support and Resources for Families of Children with Down Syndrome by Linda Bonner. The book serves as a personal account of a parent raising a child with Down Syndrome, sharing encouragement and much needed tools for parents and caregivers.

At age 3, armed with a miniature backpack, a vast knowledge of sign language, and a smile, Kevin boarded a school bus; not a small one, but a full-sized yellow bus! In fact, “bus” was one of his very first words!

Pre-school was a huge letting-go moment for me. Through some tears, I waved goodbye to my baby. I had just handed over the care and nurturing of my child to teachers and assistants who promised to teach him the skills he needed to go to kindergarten. And they did just that!

Under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act), eligible children with disabilities, ages 3-21, are entitled to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).  The public school program for young children, ages 3-5, is called the Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE).

Kevin’s experience in this program was so incredibly positive! He learned language skills, gross and fine motor skills, how to interact with others, follow directions, and so much more.

Although it was a self-contained class, the students had opportunities to interact with the elementary students on campus at lunch, recess, and some combined classes. He adapted very quickly to the classroom setting and really blossomed! Getting on the bus every day was something he genuinely looked forward to.


When Kevin was 4, he got to experience another therapy, Hippotherapy, at the local Cerebral Palsy (CP) Center during the spring and summer months. It is a form of physical, occupational, and speech therapy in which a therapist uses the characteristic movements of a horse to provide carefully graded motor and sensory input.

Kevin worked on his core strength and balance as he rode his steed. The therapists were very interactive and encouraged his fine motor and speech skills during his ride. It was quite a sight to see this little boy on a horse! He was all smiles, and the horse seemed to sense his gentleness.

The CP Center held mini horse shows so the children could show off their skills. Stations were set up so the riders would reach for objects, toss a basketball, ride with their arms raised in the air, and still maintain their seat in their saddle! Each rider had an assistant, while the horse had a guide holding its bridle. Kevin was so proud of himself in his helmet up on that horse. What a blessing to find this experience for him.

In the winter months, he could do therapy in their indoor pool, which was the beginning of his swimming skills. Today, he is an amazing swimmer and jumps off the side or diving board into the deep end of the pool!

Special Olympics

Kevin participated in his first school-sponsored Special Olympics event just before his 4th birthday. He competed in the softball throw and the 10-yard dash. As he was racing down the track, he had this look of exhilaration on his face! He couldn’t have been smiling any brighter! Watching him cross the finish line was such a tender moment, and it was obvious how proud he was. In my mind, I can still recall that joy-filled day!

Although the minimum age for Special Olympics is eight years old, many school districts have their own delegations that allow students from ages 3 to 21 to participate in school-sponsored Special Olympics. Kevin participated each year in multiple sports, including track and field, basketball, soccer, and bocce ball.

In fact, he really excelled at bocce, which he played until he aged out of school at age 21. He also participated in local Special Olympics delegations in basketball, track and field, swimming, and equestrian. Those activities became a source of not only physical exercise but also social interaction. It helped him stay connected to current friends and make new ones.

One of the things I love about Special Olympics is their medal system. They make sure every participant gets a medal. Although there are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners, the emphasis is on participating and not just winning.

Everyone is celebrated!

About Linda Bonner

Linda Bonner is an artist, entrepreneur, and disability advocate. Her goal is to provide hope, encouragement, and resources for the families of children with Down Syndrome. As a mom, daughter, and sister, she believes she has a blessed life filled with possibilities around every corner.

She is the Amazon International Bestselling Author of Blessed with Extraordinary: Support and resources for families of children with Down Syndrome.

Available for Media Interviews.

Contact: Jo Allison

Phone: 917-207-1039

Email: [email protected]


Or, Contact Linda directly.

Email: [email protected]

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