Writer and artist, Andi Durkin is no stranger to trials and tribulations, but we’ll flip past those stories to the newest chapter in her life: “My baby has Down syndrome.” First and foremost a problem solver, Andi rolled up her sleeves and went to work trying to figure out what to do for her child. She soon found that the medical industry was of little help (with the exception of the fabulous heart team at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. FL). And that the best resources are the parents –sometimes called “warrior moms”– who have macheted their way through the jungle before her.
In her journey, she discovered many gems of information for those who want to take a proactive approach to addressing the issues those with DS face. To keep this information in one place, she created the blog Down Syndrome: A Day to Day Guide which gets up to 600 hits a day. She is also helping to organize the first educational cruise about biomedical intervention in the DS community and is a foundering member and President of the new non profit Down Syndrome OPTIONs (Optimizing Potential Through Integrative Opportunities Now)whose goal is to be the most valuable and trustworthy resource for families of individuals with Down syndrome.
OPTIONs plans to increase awareness and educate parents and doctors on options for individuals with Down syndrome to help improve speech and learning as well as physical, emotional, social and intellectual growth and development. These options first, do no harm and second, look to epigenetic, neurological, biomedical, nutritional and environmental interventions which are supported by scientific information, clinical experience and parent observations. Eventually, OPTIONs will facilitate collaboration and networking for distribution of accurate information about integrative options for individuals with Down syndrome to families, government and professional agencies and non-profit organizations worldwide.
By using the therapy methods and supplements that Andi learned, her son, Jett, started reading sight words at 17 months old and figured out how to read “for real” a couple months later. At 2 1/2, he knows his basic shapes, colors, numbers 0-100, number concepts of 1-5. His oral motor speech is age appropriate and he loves to talk and sing. He loves to play his ukelele, his collection of drums and his tiny piano. The bath tub and sand box are his favorite hang outs. His favorite song is Splish Splash, his favorite movie is Mary Poppins and his favorite book is There’s No Place Like Space by Dr. Seuss. Andi is married to her super supportive, very creative husband, Kenny. They live together in Florida, and on the weekends, Kenny’s teenaged children join them.
Condition: Down Syndrome
According to the National Down Syndrome Society…
Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care, and positive support from family, friends and the community enable people with Down syndrome to develop their full potential and lead fulfilling lives.