Recently a local affiliate of the Utah Down Syndrome Foundation (UDSF) honored Sherry Joy of USU’s Center for Persons with Disabilities for her work as an advocate over the past 20 years, starting when she co-founded an organization for parents.
Maria Leishman, leader of the Cache/Box Elder Community Group of the UDSF, has known Joy for 10 years.
“We were told there was a little play group,” said Leishman, “Moms would come, Sherry brought treats and they would chat.”
The current Cache/Box Elder Community group of the UDSF grew out of those efforts. The group remains a place where parents can relax and do the same things any parent would do.
“Whether (parents of children with Down syndrome) think they do or they don’t, they still have their guard up when they’re out and about,” said Leishman, whose son Kyler is a 12-year old with Down syndrome.
She said one example is that children with Down syndrome do not have much of a concept of danger and it is common for them to wander off without supervision.
“If we are at an activity and suddenly a child is gone, it’s common for everybody to get into high gear as we look for that child. Also, sometimes they get overstimulated because there is just too much noise going on. So they might be grumpy and want to be by themselves.”
She said the foundation provides parents a chance to relax among other parents who understand the issues they face. They’re also able to gather information from other parents who have been there: on heart conditions or hearing aids or glasses.
Leishman said the website UDSF.org is the best source for news and events.