The National Advocate for People with Down Syndrome Since 1979

National Down Syndrome Society
666 Broadway, 8th Floor
New York New York 10012
800-221-4602
info@ndss.org 

Family Power!
Family Power!

I was born in Long Island, New York. My family moved to Maryland when I was three years old, so I have no memories of my home there. However, my first memory was of making a good new friend, thanks to the help of my parents. It was easy to get people to be interested in me at first, because I looked like I had Down syndrome and was very "cute." However, it became painfully obvious I wasn't aware of nonverbal cues. Not being able to communicate on other kids' levels, they often ignored me. My parents put me into therapy when I was about eight years old to help me learn how to talk to and otherwise relate to my peers, and it made a gradual difference; I became a Blue Bird Scout, took gymnastics/tumbling classes, attended piano lessons to augment my musical skills, and joined a Junior Reading Group. Not all at once, though! I also took drama classes, singing lessons, and Israeli Folk Dancing. I am Jewish, so it was a cultural thing! It wasn't even until I was almost nine when I was tested for a disability. My teachers had consistently noted that I had problems focusing in class, speaking on topic, being organized, and issues with my classmates (as in teasing). One of my mother's friends worked at the NIH and had heard about karyotype testing for chromosomal syndromes, and she was convinced. When the results came back positive for Mosaic Down syndrome, they showed everything my parents already suspected; I was very bright and talented, but had issues with nonverbal and other social cues. My creativity score was also high, which accounted for my engaging stories, dreams, poetry, etc. In high school, my desires became confused. I got into a lot of trouble, but with the help of my family, and eventually my own desire to graduate college, I did it. My parents and grandparents took a hand in ensuring I was able to accomplish it, but I did the work. In 1994, I graduated from American University with my Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems! My family was proud that I had finally made it! My life has taken many twists and turns, and plenty of falls. However, also in 1994, I found the man I now call my husband, Ted Katz. We have been married almost 14 years and we have two wonderful daughters, Sabrina and Chelsea, and they do not have any disability. We have lived in Maryland, Florida, and now Georgia; we are very happy. I am an active member of the PTA of the local school; a volunteer for my Community Garden; a member of a wonderful Jewish congregation; an aspiring author; and an advocate and self-advocate. I have spoken publicly as an advocate and self-advocate for the International Mosaic Down Syndrome Assocation, and for the Interfaith Alliance on Disability Summit 2010. I am seeking other opportunities to speak about my life and experiences. My motto is: "Down Syndrome? I'm UPbeat about it!"




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Tony G. Piontek, United States, LA
08/01/2012 13:39:12
Jeenifer has been a wonderful close friend of mine since we met in 2009 in Sacramento,CA when I was running for the NDSC Board and and on a few discussion panels already. She's tru;ly talanted, greatful, a great attuitde on life, she's a positive go getter and LOVES life to the fullest. NOT to forget eiter also loving, caring mom,too. "Mom's need sto hear this because ther's always A WILL there's always a way to improve.

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