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Eva Glettner

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My Brother Used to Have Down Syndrome

Posted: 01/22/2013 11:39 am

I can't tell you how happy it makes me to read that Kara Marcum is going to be homecoming queen at Bolivar Central High School. This speaks volumes for the entire school. I am personally invested in this story. My brother, who is almost 30, has Down Syndrome. But before you start feeling bad for him, there are a few things that you should know. Jacob is THE MAN. Seriously. With his Ray Bans, Penguin shirts and New Balance sneaks, Jacob is cool to the max. He works out at the local gym and has the guns to prove it. Everyone is smitten by his infectious attitude. Jacob is always smiling and just grateful to welcome each day as it comes. His stint at a local coffee shop translated into almost immediately higher sales.

I'm not going to lie. When I was little, I remember thinking "I wish I didn't have to bring Jacob along" to movies, the park, anywhere. But that thought was fleeting because my friends were so welcoming and loving. They would ask "are you bringing Jacob?" They looked past his speech impediment and his somewhat awkward gait and just saw him for what he is: absolute goodness. If anyone in public ever made Jacob feel uncomfortable, my friends and his friends were the first to step up. As my parents carted him to various therapies and doctors appointments, Jacob continued to get more and more awesome. His favorite movie growing up was "Muppets Take Manhattan" and we both learned the dialogue by heart after one-too-many viewings. "You hear that New York, the frog is staying!" was a quote that, to this day, is still stuck in my head.

Jacob really is taking the world by storm as we all knew that he would. He's a big social media guy and let it be known that he invited me to join his Google Plus circle before I even set up an account. He has over 1,000 Facebook friends and that number grows by the minute. When one of my blogs was entered into a contest, he rallied up enough votes for me to win the thing. Jacob is a powerhouse.

He is so great with his niece and nephews. The greatest thing about children is that they see him for who he is (as my dear childhood friends taught me many moons ago). They welcome him, they smile with him and they laugh. Oh, what a laugh. When Jacob smiles, it is more of a guffaw. My children have asked me why "Uncle Jakie" as he is affectionately called, "speaks different." I remind them that we all have different struggles and needs and that's what makes us special. I like the term "special needs" so much more than "disabled." Jacob isn't "dis" anything.

Jacob has taken his driver's written permit test thirteen times. But he does not give up. He studies the practice tests daily. It is his hope to one day drive a car, even though I have told him countless times that there is nothing worse than driving in LA. He's also stubborn. He will only go to special needs events if he is the counselor. You see, according to Jacob, he "used to have Down Syndrome when he was little." He's outgrown it and I love him for that. He works at a local private school, and he lists his job title as "Assistant Director" on his Facebook page. And you and I know that he is such a valued asset to the team, next year he might be promoted to Director.

I don't tell him enough how truly cool he is. Jacob, you are most certainly the man. I have four brothers and we all agree that Jacob is the most responsible and organized sibling of the bunch. No doubt about it. Thanks for continually reminding us what's important in life. Keep laughing, bro.

 

Follow Eva Glettner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@skatemamas

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