Saturday, December 6, 2014

"Girl Meets World" by Linnea Goranson, Former Camper

This week, we have a very special "guest post" to share with you!

Linnea Goranson works at Portland State's Graduate School of Education (where the PSU side of the
MHKC capstone is headquartered) and used to be a Kiwanis camper herself. She generously shared some of her essays on her life with Down Syndrome with us at MHKC@PSU, and we are going to share them with you! The following story, told in the third person, is called "Girl Meets World." Enjoy!

Girl Meets World

On October 22, 1980 a baby was entered into the real world by two parents who were a homemaker, forensic psychiatrist including two brothers, Anders and Eric A. Goranson. This ordinary baby wasn’t just like any other baby; this baby was very special because it was a baby girl who happens to be born with a genetic condition called “Downs Syndrome.” This means she was born with an extra chromosome. She got started in an early intervention program that helps with other babies just like her by learning sign language and singing songs to help her speak for the first time in her early life as an infant. When she was an infant, she never knew anything about the world that is surrounding her, as an infant, she was very curious and also didn’t know what the world might look like to her. As she develops of being a toddler, she had a lot of activities like speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy to develop her gross motor skills and her brothers helped by wrestling with her to get her stronger and ready to start sports. She started doing sports at 7 years old like swimming, gymnastics, volleyball, softball, soccer and basketball.    
When she turned 7, she noticed that her world was different from other people and she did not know why! She went on through when she was a pre-teen not knowing what is different about her when she started middle school. When she was a pre-teen she started elementary school, she was in regular classrooms with other students who were different from her. The students felt like she was just like them but noticed some little differences but mostly they accepted her just the way she was not because she had Downs Syndrome. The teachers treated her as a regular student but did not understand what they were in for, but they grew to realize that she wanted to be challenged just like the other students in the classroom. 
After she finished elementary school, she started middle school and then she noticed a lot of changes especially grades, in elementary school they did not give out grades they gave out Pass, No Pass, Satisfactory and Unsatisfactory. In middle school, she felt challenged because they gave out A-F for grades and it was extremely hard for her but she got through by getting B’s, C’s and one D. Then, she got better with grades like some A’s, B’s and less C’s when she moved up 7th grade to 8th grade. Her experience in her academic world was to be a success but it was challenging enough for her to push herself to learn and make her realize that she was different, that was when she recognized that she was born with Downs Syndrome. She felt like she was lost all the time and tries to understand why she was born differently from other people, then she felt depression and a feeling of suicide but she made a miraculous turn around and realizing that she has a family who accepts her the way she is and makes her feel like there is nothing that she can’t do in the world!
She also thought maybe this world of hers would make sense to her but she still did not understand the world when she was in middle school. When she turned into a teenager she realized that her world was starting to make sense to her by noticing that some people do recognize her as a person, not because she had Downs Syndrome, but other people just notice that she had Downs Syndrome and completely ignore her even though she looked different from other people. No wonder her world is so confusing and hard to understand! Being a teenager in her world was even harder to understand but she had a family to help her explain things to her so she can understand why she is different.
When she was a teenager, she started high school and she felt like she understood her world even better but still has her academic world to think about also. The students in high school treated her just like any other student in the classroom and accepted her not because she had Downs Syndrome but being a student who looks different. The teachers knew her because of her brothers that went thru the same high school but some of them did not know her brothers and assumed again that she was like her brothers but they realized that she wasn’t like them at all! What she means about this was some teachers question her capabilities before she came into their classrooms! This made her upset and hard for her to understand why they question her capabilities, she decided to prove them wrong by going into their classrooms and learning and make them understand and educate them about someone who has Downs Syndrome that can motivate herself to be a success in the classroom. That gave her a feeling that being in general education in high school was an incentive to graduate with a standard diploma! No one thought she can get a standard diploma because of being in special education but she proved everyone wrong! 

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