Steve Logue, the father of a special needs son named Casey, wants you to know a kid with an extra chromosome can bring a family lots of happiness. Down syndrome can actually be “a real upper” for a family.
Ballwin’s Logue is the author of “The Joy of Down Syndrome.” He was slated to give an April talk on the book at Webster Groves Library, but as with so many things, that has been put on hold with the COVID-19 health crisis that has hit globally, nationally and locally.
“I am kind of on a mission. Down syndrome is so rare, the average person has zero meaningful interactions with your average 46 chromosome child,” said Logue. “They are a joy. There are no prisons in America holding anyone with 46 chromosomes. They are all loving, trustworthy, good citizens.”
Logue’s book is a mix of funny and sad. The book contains first-hand tales of the innocence and honesty of young people with Down syndrome.
For example, he recalls that when Casey was on a job interview, he was asked by the employer about what he would do in case of a fire breaking out on the premises.
“Marshmallows,” replied Casey.
In addition to loving those toasted marshmallow S’mores, Casey loves to ask questions. Lots of them. The short second chapter of Logue’s book is all about Casey’s interest in knowing more about President Abraham Lincoln.
“My son was asking the question as if Abe was from the old neighborhood. It points out from the get go, how literally darling Down syndrome presents itself to us in the smallest of ways,” Logue said.
“Casey wanted to know if I knew Abe. The next question floored me: ‘He died?’ At age 63, not once have I heard mention of ‘Abe dying.’ Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. He didn’t die. He was snuffed out, shot in back of the head.
“But there’s Casey’s question: ‘He died?’ And I had a little chuckle as I hope the reader might. And, I answer as best I can: ‘Yeah, Casey, he died.’ And the last question he asks of me: ‘Why, Steve?’”
Logue said he leaves it to the reader of the book to answer that question. Because that question is not just for Casey’s dad, but for all Americans.
Attributes We Hold Dear
Logue said that the 47th chromosome acts like a steroid in a Down syndrome kid – for every attribute that human beings hold dear. Like love, honesty, acceptance, empathy and joy. Logue provides examples:
Love: “Casey will put a blanket over me when I am napping. I never put a blanket over my mother or father. It’s just so thoughtful. Have your children put a blanket over you? Or did you ever put a blanket over your mom or dad? I probably shouldn’t ask.”
Honesty: “Casey has wanted to drink light beer. When we go out to dinner, he always orders a Bud Light. He hasn’t gotten one. When I was 17, I asked people, who were not my father, to buy beer for me – sneaky. Casey, doesn’t do anything sneaky.”
Acceptance: “Casey does not judge anyone. It never occurs to him. He doesn’t look at a car and see anything other than a ride somewhere. Matters of money, property and prestige are not in his wheel house.”
Empathy: “A cousin passed away a year ago at 19 – sudden and sad. At the cemetery there were 5 chairs in front of the grave for the family. They were the only chairs under the awning to protect from the summer heat. Casey, sat with the family. It never occurred to him that ‘he didn’t belong there.’ They didn’t mind. Not only wouldn’t anyone else do such a thing, it wouldn’t even occur to us to be nearby to comfort those in grief.”
Joy: “Casey brings joy all the time. On June 19th, he started talking about Christmas. How next Christmas his sister will come in from California. And then the Christmas after that, there would be no more COVID-19. It will all be gone and we’re going to drive out to see her and go to Disneyland.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has been very hard on Casey and the family. The Special Olympics have been shut down for safety’s sake.
“Special Olympics is mega-important for Casey and his friends,” said Logue. There is basketball, softball, volleyball, soccer, and bowling. Probably leaving something out, but those are the ones that Casey has been involved with.
“With Coronavirus, everything is shut down. It is a very difficult time in Casey’s life right now. Swimming just opened, but I don’t want to bring him. We haven’t been able to intermingle with his buddies. It is difficult for all of society, except those who treat it as a farce. But, for these guys, who tend to love each other with hugs and laughs, being apart is heart breaking to me.”
It’s Not Bad News
Logue wants couples to know that it is not bad news to have a doctor come in and reveal that the baby you are about to have has Down syndrome. Logue said he wants to deliver a message to doctors to be more comforting about what is normal and what is abnormal.
“Many doctors seem incapable of discerning joy with a low IQ,” said Logue. “Not normal is not acceptable; therefore, most doctors might be constitutionally incapable of delivering news of Down syndrome in a positive light. Doctors are too smart to understand that joy and intelligence are not synonymous.”
Logue is convinced that humans with Down syndrome have so much to teach us about what is normal and what is abnormal. He said that they can help us by bringing “an astoundingly different point of view” to what should be important in life.
“The Down Syndrome Conference last summer had their convention in Pittsburgh,” said Logue. “I rented a table and told stories to folks passing by, who in turn purchased the book. This year I threw my hat in the ring to be a speaker at the convention in New Orleans, but then COVID-19 happened.
“Those of us fortunate enough to live with one of these magnificent human beings with Down syndrome have a responsibility to share our stories,” said Logue. “The subconscious fear that society holds for Down syndrome needs to evolve to what is true. These people are loving and kind.”