Down Syndrome: Audrey’s Story
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There are so many loves in 2 ½-year-old Audrey’s life. She loves her cat, Ali; the book Corduroy; splashing in water (including in her dog’s bowl!); “feeding” her baby dolls; dancing; Sesame Street; and playing on slides and swings.
But her very favorite thing right now is goldfish crackers.
“She asks for them morning, afternoon and night!” says her mom, Sharon. “She’ll do the sign for ‘cracker’ and I’ll say the word and she’ll laugh.”
Joyful moments like these have been a big part of Audrey’s family’s life since the moment she was born. Sharon and her husband, Sean, had learned early in her pregnancy that their daughter had Down syndrome, so they’d had time to process their feelings and knew what to expect.
“Getting the diagnosis was really hard and scary and terrifying,” says Sharon. “But my family was really supportive and showed me the bright side of everything. So, when Audrey was born, it was just joy.”
When Audrey was 5 months old, her parents brought her to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) for her first appointment with the Trisomy 21 Program team. “They are wonderful,” Sharon says. “They’re super helpful and make us feel very welcome.”
Audrey has a few small ventricular septal defects in her heart and receives physical, occupational and speech therapy, but overall, she is very healthy and is meeting all of her developmental milestones: She started walking shortly after she turned 2, knows about 50 signs, and enjoys saying her favorite words. “She says ‘cat’ more than she says ‘mom!’” Sharon says.
Audrey comes to the Trisomy 21 Program clinic once a year, and participates in the program’s Pool Group run by physical and occupational therapists at CHOP. “Audrey loves it,” Sharon says. “She met one of her best friends there, and it’s been pretty cool watching them grow up together.”
This fall, Audrey’s family and friends will participate in the CHOP Buddy Walk® for the second time. Their team, “Cooper’s Troopers,” raised more than $1,000 at the 2017 event.
“I love being part of the Down syndrome community,” says Sharon. “The other families really become your tribe.”
And looking to the future, Sharon has many hopes for her daughter: “I hope she can go to college if she wants to, have a career, drive a car, get married. I just want her to be able to follow her dreams and be whoever she wants to be.”