Thursday, March 6, 2014

Growing up with Jared

One of my favorite pictures
    My family's life changed forever, for the BETTER on April 6th 1986, when my youngest brother was born.  He was Jared to us, but to everyone else, he was different.  Jared was born with Down Syndrome.  Growing up, we ‘knew’ he was different but not exactly sure how he was different. 

     Jared had to work a little harder at most things that came easy for the rest of us, but nothing stopped him.  He has a smile that will light up a room and is one talented man.  He currently builds mini houses to scale and draws home plans. They are amazing ideas and his ability to put his concepts on paper, is remarkable.  I am so proud of who he has become and what he has achieved.

My little brother!

     I decided to write this because I feel like many kids and adults are not sure how to act, talk or respond to a person that is different.  Kids are mean, and they are mean even if you are not different.  Parents, TEACH YOUR CHILDREN KINDNESS, LOVE and how to ACCEPT people that are different.  They didn’t ask to be this way.   I can guarantee you, NO-ONE in my family(or anyone else that I know) would change who they are! 
   Here is an impromptu interview that I did with Jared.  I hope that by sharing some stories, pictures and letting you into our lives, it will give you a better understanding of us.   Very few people feel comfortable speaking with or even acknowledging someone that is different, this needs to change.  I feel it is time to let the world know, especially kids, that it is ok to be different.  It is ok to speak up if someone is not being nice or 'making fun' of a child or adult.  Please don't stand by and watch, speak up! Don’t be afraid to say hi, or wave to your friends, they want to fit in just like you do! 

So here is the interview:

Me: What is it like growing up with a big brother and big sister?
J: I think it is fun, it’s cool.
Me: What makes it fun?
J: I get to watch my nieces and nephews play.

Me: What is your favorite thing to do with me and Travis?
j: (with a smirk on his face) workout with you and go to the beach with Travis.

Me: Why do you like weight lifting?
J: It builds your mookies(he says it is the German word for muscles, it is actually Muskel) but none the less, that is what his ‘pal’ says. 

    As a side note, Ezra his ‘pal’ was his trainer for 7 years and suddenly passed away this past year of heart complications.  Jared misses his pal dearly.
doing his favorite 'bicep curls' on a bosu ball

Me: What is your dream job? 
J: I think it would be a sit down, without a telephone to do files and work on computers in a library.

Me: What is one thing you can tell people that they need to do to stay healthy?
J: Exercise
Me: Why?
J:  To stay in shape.

Me: Why do you always have a smile on your face and give hugs?
J: To greet people.  Sometimes I smile at myself or at people when I am dancing to my music.  To be friendly.

Me: Any tips on working out or nutrition that you can share?
J: I think that they should not eat junk food and eat healthy food.
Me: What is healthy food?
J: Fruits and veggies, sometimes dairy and meat

Me:  What is your favorite food?
J:(with another smirk) Sweet tater fries.  a.k.a. sweet potato fries that are baked not fried.

Me:  What is your favorite exercise?
J: Treadmill and bicep curls(you should see his guns!)

Me: What is it like not having hair? (He has alopecia and lost his hair when he was about 3-4)
J: I think it is cool

Me: What makes you smile?
J: (Doing the Jared side smile) putt putt, ping pong, surfing, scouts, miracle league, working out and when the Genie from Aladdin Sings!

Me:  What is it like to be almost 28?
J: It feels great!

Me: How do you grow a goatee better than your brother?
J: he snickers and says, sometimes I trim it and sometimes I let it grow.

Me: What is your favorite thing to do with Mom?
J: traveling

Me: What is favorite thing to do with Dad?
J: surfing, beach and Shaggy’s

Me: Who is your favorite, Me or Travis?(trying to trick him)
J: Without hesitation and a SMILE….’BOTH’

Me: What is your favorite book?
J: Home Planner’s Dictionary.
If any one needs home plans drawn or a mini home built, to scale, Jared is the man for the job.  He is fantastic at designing homes….He continues to improve on my dream home drawings! 

Me:  Did you ever feel different or like you didn’t fit in growing up? 
J:  (He is thinking long and hard about this question, because I really don’t think he understands that he is different)….So his answer is like this…’When you and me and Travis were little, we weren’t exactly wild, we were tame.  I know one thing, I can’t play soccer, because I sometimes get knocked down and dirty’.
       I asked my mom for any specifics, she said that most of us tried to shelter him from those things.  There were many instances with people not knowing what to say or how to say it, and then the insurance companies…When he was 3 or 4, we just changed insurances companies and my mom vividly remembers getting a letter from them that said he was a ‘non-existant person’ and did not get insurance.  I remember that day as well, I was maybe 13, and did not understand how  he was not considered a person.   

Muscle Man after a workout.

And to end the interview....

My mom said  "What is the time?'   I said: '12:41', Jared says: '12:42.'  We go back and forth about the time me:1 J: 2, me:1 J: 2, me:1 J: 'what’s 1 plus 1?' Me: 2, J: 'yep see 2, it is 12:42'. He had a huge smile on his face and at this point I am crying because I am laughing so hard!  Smooth move, J-man, very smooth!

     Jared is very to the point, and has a great sense of humor.  His memory of our past and things we have done is amazing.  He has read the dictionary numerous times and writes the words and definitions daily.  He loves drawing home-plans and taking pictures.  He loves spending time with his family, friends and going to work as well as working-out.  His handwriting print is beautiful, he has perfect form for EVERY EXERCISE that I do with him.  (He does more advanced exercised than many of my clients)
    Jared has a mans' body, but his brain is still childlike, and with that, he has to be reminded how to act and do certain things.  Jared is my inspiration for everything that I do and why I teach the way I teach.  I was an adapted physical education teacher for 7 years before moving into functional training.  Teaching and growing up with Jared, gave me the ability to show people that they can ACHIEVE ANYTHING!

    Kids or adults that look ‘different’ are the SAME as the rest of us.  They want friends, family, love, a job, a sense of self worth as well as a community and to just fit in.  I like being different, it makes me who I am.  Who wants to be normal anyway, I don't!

AWESOME 80's sibling picture(love my hair)

To learn more about adults and children with disabilities, contact your city for local services.  Or follow the link here to read about our services and make a difference in someones life.     Here is a local article on Jared that was recently published, click here to read.

 Real Food - Real Life - Real Simple

**Updated, I let Jared read the article, he corrected my spelling on Genie from Aladdin and his first question that he asked was Who is Down Syndrome?....Don't let a label define the person, it is obvious that they don't see the label so why should you!


  1. This is so wonderful! I love your writing and I love how you are with your brother. :)

  2. Thank you Jen! I just want people to see different is cool. On other posts, I hope that I can teach as many people about real food and holistic living as possible!