Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Personal Record.

posted Monday March 19th, 2012

Track and field practice has been really great for Sophie — tonight she even set a personal record in the javelin, throwing it 10 and a half feet (I think — it was 10 and a half something). But it never occurred to me that Special Olympics would lead Sophie to ask such hard questions.

Last time it was, “Why do I have Down syndrome?”

Tonight’s was more of a demand than a query: “Mommy, sign Annabelle up for track and field with me!”

Trying to keep my eyes on the traffic, I snuck a glance at Courtney (the Wonder Nanny, she’s been with us since Sophie was in kindergarten, and had come along to watch practice) and muttered, “I don’t know what to say.”

“Me neither,” she muttered back.


Gee, Sophie, that’s impossible, because Special Olympics is only for people who can’t compete against the rest of us. And that’s the category you fall into. Your sister, on the other hand — well, the sky’s the limit for her.

That wasn’t going to work. I thought hard and tried to keep my tone light.

“Oh, well, you know how you and Annabelle do different things sometimes? This is your thing. Okay?”

No. Sign her up for track and field.”

“Well, I can’t. Is that okay?”


I looked at Courtney again and mouthed, “Should I tell her the truth?”

“Sure,” she mouthed back.

But what is the truth? If the truth was that only people with Down syndrome can compete  in Special Olympics then  yeah, I guess i could have told Sophie that. But how do I explain “developmental disabilities,” “cognitive impairment” and “brain damage”?

Heck, I don’t even know what sort of diagnosis half these people (the half that don’t have Down syndrome) have. I can’t always tell the coaches from the participants.

“Um, Sophie, have you noticed that everyone in Special Olympics has something in common?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “They are like at Detour.”

Detour is a local theater company for adults with developmental disabilities. Later this year, Sophie’s going to get a chance to be in one of their productions (up to now she’s just watched) and Annabelle’s been asked to be in it, too, as a sort of coach. Both girls are super excited.

“That’s it!” Courtney stage-whispered to me, then quickly asked Sophie,  “How about if Annabelle’s your coach at Special Olympics?”

“Sure!” Sophie answered, really excited.

Crisis averted. This week.

But she’s onto me, I can tell. Onto the world.

Did you enjoy this article?
Share the love
Get updates!
Tags: Filed under: Down syndrome, Special Olympics by Amysilverman

Leave a Reply

My Heart Can't Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome is available from Amazon and 
Changing Hands Bookstore
. For information about readings and other events, click here.


All content ©Amy Silverman | Site design & integration by New Amsterdam Consulting