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“Smart Enough… to Know”

posted Thursday July 5th, 2012

It’s sharing week here at GIAPH…. Tuesday I showed you Trish’s poem. Today, here’s her lovely daughter Abbie’s English paper — she was asked to write about a “compelling person” in her life. Abbie, who is 17, chose Sophie. Abbie has known both my girls since they were days (hours?) old — and it shows. She asked me to answer a few questions for this paper, but most of it comes straight from her heart.

Smart Enough… to Know

By: Abigail Parker
May 14, 2012

At 10 A.M. on May 21st, 2003, Amy Silverman and Ray Stern brought Sophie Rae into the world. A nurse, who had been inspecting the new baby, told Amy she was measuring how far the girl’s ears were from her head. Ray then chimed in and said a life-changing sentence: “It looks like she has Down syndrome.” No one was positive just yet, but after running a few tests, the doctor confirmed the news.

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder called Trisomy 21. This means there is an extra 21st chromosome, which changes everything about Sophie from literally head to toe.

Starting early, Sophie began therapy. Speech, occupational, and physical therapies have given Sophie the progress she needs. She has been attending a school with therapies in their program.

In the spring of 2012, Sophie competed in the Special Olympics. She enjoyed challenging herself and racing against other children, as well. Her favorite part, though, was standing on the platform to accept her metal.

Sophie is also currently a ballerina at a studio in Phoenix. She was a part of the impeccable performance of Dance Theater West’s Snow Queen. Running around the stage with hectic hair, glitter, and the biggest smile, anyone could tell that she was having the time of her life. There was a clear Sophie Stern fan section that she waved to occasionally.

Annabelle Rose is Sophie’s older sister. The eleven-year-old is enrolled at [edited for content]. She is a successful dancer, pianist, and artist. Annabelle’s influence on Sophie is seen quite clearly. Of course they have differences in their favorite colors, style, and favorite TV shows, but they share a strong bond over many things. Ballet is a common hobby of theirs and Sophie wants to do anything Annabelle does like get her ears pierced.

Annabelle is aware of her sister’s condition and thinks it’s pretty neat have a little sister with Down syndrome. Watching her grow up for the past eleven years and perform as a big sister for the past nine years, I’ve realized that she is the best influence Sophie could have. Annabelle is a hard-worker and knows her role as an American eleven-year-old. Once, she was telling me about a history project she had to do for school and it became clear to me that this little girl is brilliant. Sophie sees this everyday, and although she might not be able to advance as far as Annabelle in her dancing career or in school, Sophie has been greatly impacted by her sister.

Sophie knows she has Down syndrome. Hell, she embraces it. She is a ball of energy that is filled to the brink with love, a lot of that for Olivia the Pig and paintbrushes. She’s the only person I know that will approach a stranger in a coffee shop in La Jolla, California and say, “Hi, I’m Sophie. What’s your name?” Sophie is also brutally honest. Her opinions don’t necessarily hurt anyone, but she says anything that comes to her mind, which can often be strangely insightful for a nine-year-old with a “disability.”

In fact, on the way home from a Special Olympics practice, Sophie asked her mother the mother of all questions: “Why do I have Down syndrome?” Amy answered with the fact that science made it happen, and it seemed to satisfy Sophie.

Sophie’s condition restricts her from doing many things. However, this doesn’t stop her from trying. She’s incredibly lovable, interesting, and smart, yet she’s just smart enough to know she’s not smart enough.

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Tags: Filed under: Down syndrome by Amysilverman

One Response to ““Smart Enough… to Know””

  1. It is moving to see how Abbie, like so many of us, has been touched by Sophie and her family. The world needs more people like Abbie and Annabelle and Sophie, with open minds and open hearts. How hopeful that someone so young is trying to understand another’s perspective. Thank you for sharing.

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My-Heart-Cant-Even-Believe-It-Cover
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.
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