The Developmentally Disabled

I have an older brother, Robert, who is mentally retarded. For the most part, you wouldn’t know it. I sometimes don’t recognize it either. Robert is always introduced as my older brother, and if he is next to me, will hit me like an older brother would. Recently those who are developmentally disabled have developed some attention in the news.

The Politicians get Robert every time they are outside the supermarket. Robert always asks them “What are you going to do for me…or can you tell me more about it.” At first the politicians respond with their answers and then realize Robert is disabled. I always tell the politicians that he is a voter, and is just as bright as you are.

Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter, has a 21 year old son who attended the All Star game with his father. There is a clip of him coaching the players, and imitating what his father was doing. The video is priceless.

My little pet peeve is how people almost associate those who are developmentally disabled as stupid. Stupid they are not. My brother always has the most appropriate comments in any given situation, and most of the times, the best comedian wouldn’t be able to come up with that comment. I tell the “normal” people to call my brother when they are having a bad day, and you will instantly laugh.

Madison Tevlin, a 12 year old with down syndrome, a typical tween, made a viral YouTube video. She does a cover of John Legend’s song All of You, and hits a home run. When you watch Madison’s introduction, she screams being a 12 year old, and is an example to all. Yet, people are shocked that she can sing. She proved those who didn’t think she could sing wrong.

Finally, from time to time when nothing is on, I watch Glee. No, this isn’t an episode of Seinfeld when Jerry pretends not to watch Melrose Place. Anyway, one of the characters on the show (Lauren Potter) has down syndrome, and does quite well. Jane Lynch, another actress on the show is the first to back her and even went as far as doing a Public Service Announcement (PSA) on her behalf.

My brother was diagnosed as having Fragile X. Robert’s X chromosome never formed. If it did develop he would be considered normal, but at the same time is already normal!

Robert even is an extra in Theo Rossi (Son’s of Anarchy) film Bad Hurt which is due to be released in 2015 (hopefully). We have learned that Robert was used more in the movie since he takes direction really well, and can certainly rise to the occasion when called upon.

Those with down syndrome just have different facial features, but does not equal stupid. There are different variances of those who are developmentally disabled and some are higher functioning than others. Jut like “normal” people we have our strengths and weaknesses and are put on this earth to do great things.

When I was little, I had the opportunity to meet Chris Burke, who broke ground in the acting business in the television show “Life Goes On.” Again proving those with developmental disabilities can raise the bar.

While Robert may not be able to drive, he is certainly capable of more than one can imagine. I laugh because when that show Super Nanny is on, before the Nanny says anything Robert is yelling at the kids to sit down and behave. Almost responds to exactly to what the Nanny will tell the parents to do with their child. I know that my sister and I will have a fantastic babysitter, and will approve of his discipline tactics.

Robert a few years ago started to do reading tween books. He has someone come over and read with him on a weekly basis. It is something he looks forward to doing. While sitting in the other room, his reading is amazing. He even reacts to the scenes in the story when someone got hurt or did something bad.

A few years ago, my brother became fascinated with the iPad. My dad installed Wheel of Fortune. Did I mention that he is addicted to Wheel of Fortune like I am addicted to this Old House. So Robert became accustomed to watching Wheel of Fortune, have it playing on his iPad, and gaming console, along with his notebooks and pencils.

Robert has crushes on Vanna White along with Stacy London. While extremely shy, it would be my goal if he could meet them in person. When he was a teen he had a crush with Ricky Lake. At first my mom was nervous about watching that show due to the topics, but it didn’t traumatize him one bit.

If people would realize that Robert and all those who are developmentally disabled are a joy to be around. You may learn a thing or two about yourself or life in general.

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