Our Signature Story by Bob Huisman

Everybody has a story.

I recently learned about a term called signature stories.

A signature story reflects events in your life that affect who you are today.

The birth of our daughter Annah is one of our signature stories.

After the 20 week ultrasound – we never expected Annah to live – she had a cystic hygroma (growth on her next, but she also had fetal hydrops (a buildup of fluid in the body – fluid buildup similar to congestive heart failure – always fatal – like congestive heart failure that is untreated). Annah’s condition was always fatal, never reversing condition of fetal hydrops miraculously reversed.

On December 11, 2000 Annah was born alive and that is when we found out she has Down syndrome. Despite all the ultrasounds we had, Annah didn’t have any of the telltale signs of Down syndrome. Down syndrome is also known as trisomy 21, because there are 3 chromosomes on the 21st pair of chromosomes instead of 2. When Annah was little, we focused more on her disabilities, as she continues to grow, even though the gap between her and her peers widens, we tend to focus more on Annah’s abilities.

Annah is one of our signature stories for us as her parents and for Annah’s siblings.

Annah is 16 and in a lot of ways is a typical teenager. She participates in tennis and gymnastics, she is involved in her church youth group and she thinks boys are very cute and she like to spend time with her friends. When you meet Annah you will likely recognize her special needs because of her appearance.  You will say to yourself, “I think she has Down syndrome”

You will also recognize that Annah wants to engage you in conversation. She is very sociable.  She will want to know your name.  She will want you to know her name and that she is sixteen going on seventeen.  You will like her because she will brighten your day, cause you to feel good about yourself, and bring out the best in you.

Annah is one of our signature stories.

You will also immediately realize that it is difficult to understand Annah’s speech. You will understand some things, but other things you won’t have any idea what she is saying. Curiosity will cause you to ask her what she said, but if you don’t understand her a second time, you will politely nod your head and smile and start to think about wrapping up the conversation.

However, Annah has much to tell you, much more to ask you, and much more love to give to you if you are patient with her. Most people are not that patient. Most adults are not that patient.  Most students are not that patient.  Most high schoolers are not that patient.  Some are, but most are not.

One of Annah’s greatest strengths is her sociability. Her excitement to meet you.  Her genuine love for people and being able to celebrate the smallest accomplishment of yours with a high five and a declaration that something as simple as having a birthday in the same month as her is “Awesome!”

One of Annah’s biggest barriers to establish meaningful relationships where she can give and receive love, be accepted by her peers, and multiply the love for life that she has within her is the intelligibility of her speech or the lack of intelligibility of her speech.

Annah continues to work on her communication skills. The better her communication skills, the stronger her relationships.  The stronger her relationships, the more the world gets to receive her unbridled joy and love of life.  The world needs more joy.  The world needs more love of life.  The world needs what Annah has to offer….but they won’t receive it to their fullest potential if they walk away from her too early because they can’t understand what she is saying.

Annah is one of our signature stories.

We believe, that a friendship with Annah might become the signature story of someone else.

If you can take the time to discover what she has to say.

Submitted by Bob Huisman

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