Goes to school, goes to the store, standing in line for an apartment – how to live a “special” teenager in the United States

Teresa Baghdasaryan moved to USA and decided to give birth to 46 years. The nurse told her a joyful voice: “your child has down syndrome!”. Now Gregory is 16 years old, he attends a normal school, one walks around the city, to shop and to school, got a black belt in Taekwondo. Is it difficult to raise a special child in America, what is the future Teresa sees her son, and she wished that he was different.

Gregory with mom

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“You sent me a bad gift, return it to You?”

– Gregory, are you going to play football? Your friend came for you. Gregory, are you going to play football? For you come to your friend, says Teresa, he and his sixteen year old son before our conversation. Gregory has down’s syndrome, and together with his mother, he lives in California.

Teresa Baghdasaryan twice radically changed their place of residence. The first time left his native Baku to Moscow, fleeing from the Karabakh conflict. The second time – moved from Moscow to the USA, in the California city of Monrovia.

My emigration was not linked to any political or economic reasons. I decided to run away from vexed relatives, especially in America, just lived my younger sister laughs Teresa. – The fact that my husband is younger than me by 10 years, and when we got married, I was 34 years old. For Armenian families it is simply an impossible mismatch. Yes, and children. We went to the doctors, all the tests showed that we’re right. You can imagine how much pressure was on us from all relatives! Shortly after me moved and my husband.

In America, Theresa, is a teacher of music, changed his profession – he became a technician in the dialysis Center, for six months, learned the language.

After 12 years of marriage, 46 years, Teresa realized that she was pregnant. I couldn’t believe it, and then when doubt was gone, this news has caused incredible enthusiasm, and she, and husband.

The delight lasted until five months of pregnancy, until the doctor insisted on amniocentesis – puncture of the amniotic SAC and taking okoloplodnykh waters.

When results were ready, the doctor was out of town, I called the nurse and joyful voice said: “your child has down syndrome”.

I then realized that for Americans, this news is of course not good news, but not a tragedy. For me, the former Soviet man, it was the end of the world.

Then came back the doctor suggested an abortion. Warned that if Teresa decides to keep the baby, her life will change and not for the better. This decision may affect your relationship with your husband. Do not impose their point of view, just informed. When Teresa said that the child will leave, there is more to this question the doctor returned.

– I refused because to me abortion is unacceptable. The rejection was from my childhood, when my mother and her friends talked loudly as they did abortions. Such a strange heroism of Soviet women… This is my child, sent to me as a gift. I’ve begged him with God, and I say to Him: “You sent me a bad gift, return it to You?” No, I was ready to do anything to make my baby happy.

Thousand dollars and two trucks of stuff from colleagues

Those remaining four months before the baby Teresa remembers how heavy the dream with endless tears and despair. My husband insisted on an abortion. Yes, now he has another family (there was when the son was nine), but he likes Gregory and ready to come on the first call. And then said that millions of women have abortions, and nothing bad will happen. About down syndrome Teresa at that time really knew nothing, well, except for the horror stories of childhood, when “retarded” was offensive expletive.

– After giving birth, I received tremendous support from strangers. I was going to meet – at work, gave a huge vacation, the doctor allowed to stay in hospital for more than two weeks, though usually more than three days they don’t. Colleagues, friends visited daily. They brought me a thousand dollars, plus helped things: it was the second year of my life in America, I had nothing, I was just starting to work. Sister prepared a dowry for the baby. All this gave me strength.

Teresa says that the first time shy Gregory, and if out on the street, his head was put on his shoulder to no show.

And to admit it even to herself are only now, after so many years. But the shyness went pretty quickly had some time to go out on the street to understand – the kid no one responds in a negative sense. On the contrary, people on the street, in the store fit to say with admiration: “What a cutie! Can I hold him?”.

When Gregory was eight months in the States came to mother Teresa and immediately fell in love with the grandson. Syndrome it or not – the values for grandma had. She always had Gregory in his hands and claimed that he was just an amazing, incredible child.

“Immediately called the Professor”

– After the birth of the “special child” information about it immediately comes to various authorities, says Teresa. Children here do not pass to the state, they grow in families. The child will immediately be issued a free medical insurance. In addition, it takes custody of the Regional centre is a charitable organization that helps develop young children up to 3 years, and then controls how they live. That is, even if I die the son will not remain unattended. Information transferred to the University of California at Berkeley. From there I called the Professor and we talked for a long time. She told about the syndrome: “You mustn’t blame yourself, because it is still unknown why children are born with down syndrome. The age of the mother here plays no role”.

With Gregory began to work specialist, learning to adapt to life, then the physical therapist who worked with low muscle tone, then speech therapy. Myself Teresa was actively involved with his son, taught to distinguish colors, shapes, letters…

– When in three years the son went to a special kindergarten, he already knew the alphabet, numbers, geometric shapes and about 25 colors. He did not say, but when I asked, “Give me the green pencil, circle give or show such a figure,”- he showed. Didn’t want to sit in a wheelchair with his back to me and had to put son to see me constantly. I once read that children with down syndrome do not recognize either, nor the others. But Gregory refutes it with his affection for me!

A black belt in Taekwondo

– When son was nine years old, I decided to slow down in making tools and began to work enough to have enough for food and housing, and the rest of the time was engaged to Gregory.

Teresa noted Gregory Taekwondo, swimming, guitar and drawing classes. Plus additional, in addition to the school, sessions with a speech therapist.

Taekwondo Gregory went, not even knowing how to jump – he was a gangly child, and the only “special” in the group.

Classes in the first group was not very effective, but three years ago, Gregory went to another group, where he was the only “special”.

– Give we will make so: in just one month I practice with Gregory individually, and then say, whether to leave it here, explained the coach to Theresa. Just a few days, he said that Gregory listens and does everything the same way as other children. In June of this year Gregory received the black belt.

– After they have done all the required exercises, stood up the chief master of Taekwondo in Los Angeles and told him he was impressed, he was delighted. “We’re proud of you, boy. You’re just gorgeous” – these his words to the son, I burst into tears. And then I was approached by master Park, coach Gregory: “thank You very much. Very proud that I was his teacher”. It was the recognition of Gregory as an equal.

Single in the city

Teresa tries to make it so that Gregory could handle in this life and without her, accustoms to independence. Gregory walks around the city alone. Step by step mom taught him how to cross the street, to stop at the traffic lights, take a launderette.

Now he can safely take a basket of Laundry, walk to launderette to sort dark and light linen, to load cars and to pay. It can make your own Breakfast, warm up some food. I taught him to walk to the store alone. Give a list, money, and it goes and finds everything that it is necessary to buy around a huge supermarket. In school, all the classes he now also walks alone.

In the day of my birth until I was in the shower, he went to the store and brought me the finest roses!

And it comes to my friend, with whom Gregory is studying the Bible. I thought that the Bible is necessary for the son just so he could discern good and bad, right and wrong, just and unjust, should have known not to join bad groups to listen to bad people.

In America there is no state psychiatric institutions. According to Teresa, people with disabilities live in special communes communities where they can go to work. But Teresa wants her son to live in a big world.

– I would really like to see Gregory was an independent life. So he went to work, him to have his own house. I now stood in the queue for public housing for him – Studio apartment. According to local concepts one room is one bedroom and attached to it and a kitchen and living room.

Now he has his own room order and cleanliness. I say to the son: “You don’t have to be rich, but you can clean and order to show people that you are self-sufficient, you’re right.”

Gregory rewritten with half the world. Recently open my eyes at three in the morning, and he sits and’s teleconferencing with the same age – a girl from Kazakhstan, in English, of course.

The pupil of most normal schools

Now Gregory is studying in an ordinary school. And now, even in the regular classroom.

– Schools usually have two specialized class. In one children who have problems is not very strong, in the other – children with serious problems, each student is assigned a tutor. Gregory began to study in the classroom where the children are not very severe problems. I have so many things did not yet know, because I didn’t speak the language at the proper level. I had no idea about the inclusion. That at least an hour or two a child could spend in the ordinary class, so he was sitting in a “special” where he was taught different simple everyday things.

In a normal class Gregory began to walk in the ninth grade. In the “special” – only spends an hour a week. Teresa hopes that then the son will go to College, and for not so much money, how much usually it cost to study.

From school Gregory returned on the school bus.

I don’t remember such case that someone of the parents said, “We don’t want Gregory was with our children!”

Moreover, we have eight-apartment houses house and a small yard. There are kids of different ages, and they constantly use: “Can Greg come outside with us to play?”. They come to our home, I arrange musical evenings. Turn on the music, everyone dancing, singing, shouting. Me their parents say, “How you all suffer?”. I explain that I worked all my life with children, and now I need that Gregory had some kind of communication. I believe that for children with down syndrome do not need constant communication with their own kind. They are drawn to normodipine people learn a lot from them.

By the way, he’s even made a diagnosis of “intellectual disability” intellectual disability. Probably, for Russia, the more clear term “mental retardation”, but in the US it can not be used.

Speaking about down syndrome, about some of the research, expert advice, Theresa picks up the words. For the first time she was faced with all this it was in America and heard from English.

Every year the school is going to a meeting about Gregory school Director, Deputy Director, school psychologist, nurse, speech therapist and all the teachers that deal with my son. Discusses the program for the whole year that they will go with Gregory to examine what is put in front of him and objectives. Listen to what I want. Gregory perfectly expresses his thoughts in writing, to understand this, it is enough to read his essay. But conversational speech has big problems, and my school only a year ago said that they do not have the necessary specialist. I will deal with this issue with the help of a lawyer.

Even Teresa is not like that in the classroom in high school for “special children” they teach them to go to catering establishments, and buying fast food. After all, the house she tells him that there is impossible to eat healthy food, have to cook for myself.

By high school, Theresa actually had a lot of questions:

– When Gregory was in ninth grade, I was in shock. “Special” children were allocated a horrible room where previously dumped all the unnecessary things. We immediately signed up for a visit to the school Director, called the chief of local regional Department of education and Express what I think about it. Just a couple of months they moved to a new class – perfect, with hardwood floors, well equipped. They changed the master, because when I saw the homework that brought my child already has studied fractions, I was shocked: we had to paint a picture on a piece of paper.

I wish he was normodipine for him

Theresa dreams that Gregory went to College and got some sort of feasible a profession for him. And then, as already mentioned, became fully independent.

I don’t want to clean the toilets in McDonald’s, wiping the tables or put something on the shelves in the store. He is quite able to be a teacher’s assistant in classrooms for children with special needs, he loves to help and follow some rules, rutinum.

Since I plan to leave public housing, he will pay for it no more than $ 200. With all that he state will always give the benefit of from 850 to 1000 dollars a month. So he can quite comfortably live on the remaining money, because in America, the largest expenditure is housing, no matter you buy it or rent.

Plus, it’s important for me to give him a job that he felt needed to every morning, went to work and came home in the evening. Want it to continue, in adult my life, I went to Taekwondo.

I will teach him to drive a tricycle with a basket to make it easier to go shopping. And even if with me something happens, it will be the coordinator from the Regional donation center.

Teresa talks about how they overcame Gregory’s is the crisis of adolescence, as she from childhood taught that girls can not hurt, how to share their feelings and joy. And through all betrays a mother’s pride. Like any loving and accepting mother, Teresa is convinced Gregory is the best in the world.

Sometimes I think: and I’d like to he was like? No, I was not. I say is honest. He’s good for what it is.

There is so much kindness, love to all, attention. When friends come to me, I don’t need to set the table. Gregory says: “Mom, you talk”. Look, he’s already pulling the Goodies on the coffee table, pours tea. He takes care of the guests: “Try this, try that”. If little children come and play with his toys, and he sees that the toys they like, gives them, he is not sorry.

The only thing I wish it was normodipine for him, so he was easier to live after me. But again it is what it is, I will do my best to he was ready for this life. This is my only job.

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