When I first heard rumors of a television show featuring young adults with Down syndrome, I was curious. Having worked with this population previously, I wondered if the show would really be “reality” for most of our families. The first episode aired in 2015 – we were so excited! I remember learning more and more about each cast member as that first season went on…new names and faces to the public. I also remember there was much discussion as the show began about the abilities of the cast members – particularly their good speech and articulation – and how that related to the community of people with Down syndrome. There was much “buzz” about how Down syndrome would be portrayed, and if the general population would even be interested in the lives of seven young adults with Ds.
That first season was, indeed, very well received. The show, and cast members, grew in popularity, especially in the Ds community. Cast members were featured at events – from Buddy Walks to fundraisers; black tie photo shoots, to behind the sales table; photo ops and autograph opportunities. Elena, John, Sean, Cristina, Rachel, Steven and Megan became names we were familiar with. We got to meet all the cast last year at the NDSC conference in Orlando, and expect that many, if not all, of them will be in Sacramento this July. It seems the show IS a hit. Ratings were good enough to warrant a second, and now, a third season. Twitter on Tuesday nights is filled with “typical” people commenting how much they love any particular cast member. The best thing is reading the comments about how they relate to these young adults and their issues, and what advice they might offer. #morealikethandifferent ☺
Flash forward to last Tuesday night, and the first episode of Season 3. So exciting! (Especially at our house, with the latest Vintage New York City Magazine issue “Dreams” and that connection now!) The show has progressed, in my opinion, and I love the direction they are going. Early episodes focused more on introductions and lighter issues. Tuesday’s episode had discussions on healthcare, dating and living situations. The relationships have grown and evolved. I love hearing from the parents, who are still quite involved in most cases. And I love seeing the interactions between all of them, and knowing that just as things in our lives don’t go perfectly, theirs don’t either. BUT, there are usually many different options as solutions. The families work through problems, and solve them as a team.
As a parent, and someone still very involved in the Down syndrome/disability community, I’m happy that the general population is learning (sometimes right along with us) about the issues that face our families and loved ones with Ds. I’ve always been one to “look ahead”, and the show gives us an opportunity to do just that. We watch with one eye towards the future, and learn lessons. Some lessons to begin working on now, and some to be tucked away for a bit further down the road. With the addition of young Rocco (age 3, and adorable!), the show is now also offering that vision to brand new parents. (I personally think they should add a certain 10-year-old’s point of view, but that’s my opinion.☺) “Born This Way” is helping to change perceptions and stigmas; giving people vision, hope and a sense of belonging in a broader community…helping to make inclusion in life more of a reality to everyone.