My daughter is "special", she is 11 years old and she has Down syndrome. In fact, every single person/creature in this world is "special", brings something to this world that can not be replicated and should be cherished. Value is not related to IQ, employment, academics, looks, physical accomplishments, health, money, homogeneity, rate of development, mobility, speech, hearing, seeing any of it. Value is intrinsic; worth is about being in the world, period. I am not saying this because I read it or that other people believe it and have convinced me. I know this because I have experienced it, seen it, am lucky enough to recognize how lucky I am to have this opportunity; not just to see my child through a different lens but to see the WHOLE world differently, including myself. Sometimes, Down syndrome or not, being in the world is full of pain, sometimes it is a very brief time here on earth- but even that has worth and value. I'm going so far as to say that the world would be a lesser place without people with Down syndrome in it our community less enriched. And..Our kids can do ANYTHING. Yes, I said anything. Or I should say, just as much anything as anyone else can do. In other words, if there is something that they would like to accomplish, they can set goals and work towards them. Just like all of us, our children can figure out, with their loved ones support, how to have the life they want to have, how to figure out what it is they want, how to best understand who they are and how that is all going to work together to create a life with meaning and pride. Is that different than anyone else? It's all about a life well lived, not about the milestones acquired. Are you having fun, in love with your child and life? That's all there is. Does that mean you will have a perfect and happy life? No but if you do not it will not be because you have given birth to a child with a diagnosis of Down syndrome. For me many of the things that I previously held as the way to happiness have all dissolved and I have found that my daughter has shown me better ways. I treasure her individuality like the gem it is. She feels fear and sadness deeply but seems to be able to live in the kind of mindful way that Oprah, yoga masters and therapists all charge top dollar to practice and coach their clients to achieve. I have become special too. Because I have special gifts that I was never able to see before. And my most special gift is my daughter.