Hi, I am Jolene, and a mother of two. The day my daughter Lina was born, we learned she has Down syndrome. That day, her dad and I made the decision that we would do whatever it took to support her to be her very best self. That means equipping her with tools to make her own decisions, starting as a toddler.

Since she was tiny, we have given her as many choices as she can handle. She learns how to make decisions by practicing. As she grows, she is able to make more and bigger decisions. It is sometimes scary as a parent to let go of control. But more often than not, Lina surprises us by how she well she meets a new challenge. Imagine if we had never given her that chance.

I want to encourage every parent of a child with a disability to assume your child can make decisions. Help them practice. Let them take risks. They WILL surprise you. And they will be getting ready for the future you want for them. If nothing else, by the time she is 18, we will know we’ve given her every tool we know how to give her.