UP, NOT DOWN SYNDROME
Nancy M. Schwartz
Modern History Press (2020)
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (05/20)
“Up, Not Down Syndrome: Uplifting Lessons Learned from Raising a Son With Trisomy 21”, by Nancy Schwartz, is part memoir, part self-help, and is a book that chronicles how her world changed the moment her new baby, Alex, was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, or Trisomy 21, and the lessons she learned about acceptance, love, and overcoming adversity, day by day.
Schwartz tells the true story of her family in poignant detail, all the while letting Alex’s voice shine through, until we feel that we know this family on a personal basis.
A gifted writer, and this is her first book, Schwartz uses honesty and real-life anecdotes pulled from her life to tell the story of how she and her family dealt with Alex’s diagnosis. Most parents wouldn’t be so frank, and might hide feelings of disappointment, bitterness, and doubt, but Schwartz decided to tell her story with openness, in hopes that she could reach other parents, if not society, on a non-sugar-coated level.
Schwartz, an educator, takes her knowledge and experience, and uses it to help others see that Trisomy 21 is not an automatic death blow to a family. It could be at first, but, as Schwartz learned, and hopes to show others in her writing, it could also be considered a blessing. She describes the heartache and frustration of not being unable to communicate the “regular” way with Alex, but knew, and knows, in her heart, that he feels the love she feels for him. Alex has touched so many lives, from teachers to extended family members, and this book reflects that.
This book is a sober reminder that not all children start out on equal footing, nor all parents–and a special needs child is far from being a burden–but simply a child to be loved. For parents of a disabled child who wonder if they can make it, care properly for their child, or be the right parents for the child, this book is a wonderful support system. If you know of anyone who could benefit from “Up, Not Down Syndrome: Uplifting Lessons Learned from Raising a Son With Trisomy 21”, I can’t recommend this book enough. It should be on the to-read list of parents, caregivers, clergy, teachers, and helping professionals who interact with children living with Trisomy 21, and for those who want to be better informed about the subject and daily life of such a special family.