By now, it is no big surprise that the network A&E has aired a show that follows the lives of seven adults with Down syndrome (DS). In case you have not watched it yet, here is a synopsis of the cast:
- John, 28. Aspiring rap artist.
- Rachel, 32. Mailroom Assistant. Self-proclaimed as “boy crazy” and having a “big heart”.
- Megan, 22. Motivated college student, business owner and an aspiring film producer.
- Steve, 24. Very debonair and high functioning with a rare form of Down syndrome—mosaic Down syndrome. Refers to himself as the “Matt Damon of the bunch”.
- Cristina, 25. Very sweet and diplomatic young woman who is in a full- fledged relationship that may lead to marriage.
- Sean, 25. Remarkable Special Olympics golfer with notable amount trophies to show for it. He is also a ladies man who would rather receive a “cute babe” for his winnings instead of trophies.
- Elena, 28. Very fun loving, sensitive and emotional. She cannot come to term with having DS or being labeled as such.
What can I say about this show? It covers many of the bases of the issues that individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) face. I’d like to remark on the fact that each one of the cast members react and respond to life/circumstances in the same way they are taught by their loved ones. Their families have a huge impact in their perception of life, success, self-worth, and emotional well-being. I like how the show covers real life concerns like intimate relationships, producing offspring, careers, friendships etc.
Having worked with this population for the past 5 years, I see so many of my consumers in the cast of this show. They all yearn for the same things that we all strive for. Although individuals with IDD share the same hierarchy of needs as outlined in the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, their priorities differ slightly. Individuals without IDD are motivated to achieve certain needs and once a need is satisfied they seek to fulfill the next one. Physiological needs are most significant in individuals without IDD. Whereas, in the IDD population, it appears that one of the most important need, besides, physiological, is love and belonging. Acceptance means everything to them. As a result, it behooves all of us to include them in our communities and help them to reach their full potential.
I’m so very thankful that A&E is creating such great awareness about DS; I hope that all other forms of IDD will be highlighted in this manner in the near future. So far, I know that The Aspertools: Practical Guide for Understanding and Embracing Asperger’s, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Neurodiversity is making great strides in creating awareness about Autism. I can’t wait to see much more of these types of mindfulness regarding the IDD population–this will definitely help create inclusion for them into mainstream societies.
Below, I have listed information about how to watch this show as well as the documentary regarding Aspertool.
Born this Way:
Aspertools: The Practical Guide for Understanding and Embracing Asperger’s, ASD & Neurodiversity with Dr. Harold Reitman:
Exploring Different Brains: