After the airing of CBS’s feature story “What kind of society do you want to live in?: Inside the country where Down syndrome is disappearing” — many of my friends and loved ones messaged me, appalled by a mindset that seems to permeate the cultural and secular belief systems that many Icelanders seem to embrace. As noted by the CBS 60-minutes segment, the selective termination rate (which is different than the general termination or abortion rate) is speculated to be near 98% in Iceland when a Down syndrome diagnosis is suspected. Many Icelandic healthcare specialists are aiming for a 100% selective termination rate. And while this is barbaric, horrendous, and shocking to many of my friends, family, and followers (it is to me too so I appreciate the sentiment) — This. Is. My. Reality. A reality where I am highly aware, that the majority of parents (let’s not limit this selective termination trend to Iceland) CHOOSE to end their pregnancies…because of that squiggly little third copy of the 21st chromosome. That same extra chromosome that my child happens to have.
World Down Syndrome Day
Every year we do different things to increase awareness on World Down Syndrome Day (3/21...get it?). Last year we attended a Baby Sign Time concert and participated in a balloon release, hosted by the DSPNT (Down syndrome Partnership of North Texas). It was an incredible event that both boys enjoyed, especially the cookies and Cokes. In 2015, I posted a blog entry on the DSDN website in an effort to participate in the social media movement #lifewithDS. This space on mamability.com will be devoted to these events and experiences -- future opportunities to celebrate people with Down syndrome and their loved ones on World Down Syndrome Day! Most likely I will post narratives and photos that depict and describe how we participate WDSD, an occasion that used to be an average day to us, but has become a highly anticipated "holiday" in our home!
It all began last fall. A dear friend of mine from graduate school, Lauren, also happens to be the TEDxACU director at Abilene Christian University. Ironically, even though we are both ACU grads, Lauren and I initially crossed paths as students in Texas A&M University’s doctoral program hosted by the Department of Communication. We were in the same cohort! Obviously, Lauren and I are friends and we follow each other on social media. Last September she emailed me to let me know that she thought my social media advocacy efforts related to Down syndrome could be the backdrop of a compelling TEDx presentation. She encouraged me to submit a proposal to a decision committee formed at ACU and apply to be one of the speakers. I did, the proposal was accepted, and I delivered my TEDx Talk last March! But there was a lot of behind the scenes work on my part that I’d like to share, hence this blog entry. I can only go into detail regarding the work I put into the “talk” and some “backstage” observations I made from my perspective, however. I’m certain Lauren knows more about the processes and production components that make up these speaking series.
Welcome Back Wildcat! — A TEDxACU Talk Brings me Back to ACU
I am so excited to announce that this year, 3 days after World Down syndrome Day, I have been invited to give a TEDxACU presentation at Abilene Christian University! When it comes to campus affiliations, I might have a little bit of an identity crisis. I’m a fightin’ Texas Aggie (twice baked, class of ’01 and ’14 from the Department of Comm) and a Southern Methodist University Mustang (I’m currently on faculty in the Department of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs), and I’m part ACU Wildcat! I graduated with my MA in Communication from ACU back in December of 2003. Arguably, ACU gave me my wings. I was NOT a seasoned speaker, teacher, or scholar when I entered the program as a graduate assistant in 2002. But when I earned my hood and diploma….I began to soar, thanks to the mentorship, friendship, and instruction I received from the incredible faculty and staff in the Department of Comm! I can’t wait to return to my alma mater and see the campus once again. It’s been more than 10 years since I’ve been to Wildcat country and for those of you who have never visited the Abilene area, there is one thing you shouldn’t miss if you do — the food! Seriously, if you’re into BBQ, steak, and good old fashioned home-cookin’ (Texas style), you can’t beat the selection in Abilene, TX. Perini Ranch, Bee Hive, Hickory Street Cafe, Homeplace, Harold’s Pit BBQ (tragically, now closed), and Jo Allen’s, are just a few of my old haunts. Aside from food, however (lol!), I am also thrilled to be speaking about something else that I hold very near and dear to my heart — “next” conversations about Down syndrome. I think WDSD 2017 might be a low key event around our house this year, because mama’s gonna be preppin’ for a big talk (and some big eatin’)! And I may have to pack up the fam and take them with me. The boys need a true ACU/Abilene experience. I may cry a little on the inside when Everett chooses a PB&J over a nice kids entree at Perini Ranch though. Food aside, here’s a little sneak preview of what the TEDxACU talk will be about. [Read more…] about Sneak Preview of TEDxACU
Exciting news about WDSD 2017 coming soon!