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My four year-old has Down syndrome. Yesterday, I sent her off to school for the first time in our new suburban town. We chose this particular suburb because of its reputation for a committed and loving approach to educating and including children with special needs. In New York City, where we lived for eight years, the best strategy for families with limited financial resources looking to get their special-needs kids into decent education environments was to sue the city. Every year. Until they turn twenty-one. Usually these suits are successful, but we have no stomach for this kind of thing, and we don’t have the finances to keep a lawyer on retainer for seventeen years, so we moved. Even though we’re now in a better neighborhood, I can’t help but worry a little bit extra about my sweet Miss M, since the country seems to be falling apart on so many fronts. Five years ago, the medical team who told us our unborn baby would have Down syndrome advised us to “terminate.” Hearing a diagnosis of Down syndrome is a horrible, terrible shock. All your hopes for your unborn baby, for your family, for your own journey into old age, change in an instant. To have people not-so-subtly reminding you that your child will also be a burden on society is a crushing blow. Yet this is the message that all too frequently gets sent to people in this very unfortunate, and vulnerable, position. We know Miss M won’t be going to Harvard, just as we knew we had to get out of the city in order to find a more hospitable place to raise our family, a place where she has the freedom to pursue her interests and talents. Maybe she’ll end up living on her own, holding down a job, and, at least partially, supporting herself. Come to think of it, that’s what I’m hoping for all my kids. But under a government that seems intent on making ALL of us wards of the state, how long before some of us are deemed too much of a burden? After all, we’re living in a country where the president’s right-hand man feels free to drop the R-bomb in the White House and Mr. Obama himself jokes on late-night TV that his atrocious bowling skills might qualify him for the Special Olympics (remember? he got a few laughs). I wonder what the future holds. Not just for my little Miss M, but for all of us.