Greg Palmer, an award-winning writer and producer of PBS documentaries and plays for families, chronicles two of the most important years in the life of his son, Ned, who has Down syndrome-the time when he's making the transition from high school to work. This intimate, often humorous, account is woven with vivid anecdotes concerning school, family, relationships, and work (both Ned's and Greg's), including a father-son cruise around the British Isles;, Ned's band conducting debut;, and an amusing visit to a Hooters restaurant. Greg makes us care about his son's strengths and foibles as he does, whether describing how Ned impresses strangers by reciting poetry and playing the piano or his struggles to learn to handle money, responsibility, and the death of a friend. An absorbing and insightful read, ADVENTURES IN THE MAINSTREAM offers reassurance to other parents and enlightens us all about what's really involved-for father and son-in a young man's important journey from adolescence toward adulthood. This edition includes an afterword about the experiences of Ned and his family in the decade since ADVENTURES was written.
Like many parents, Greg Palmer worries about his son's future. But his son Ned's last year of high school raises concerns and anxieties for him that most parents don't experience. Ned has Down syndrome; when high school ends for him, school is out forever. The questions loom: What's next? How will Ned negotiate the world without the structure of school? Will he find a rewarding job in something other than food service? Who will help Ned manage his life when his mother and father are gone? To help him sort out these questions, Palmer keeps a journal that is the basis for this thoughtful book. Ned has talents and interests - in poetry, music and history - that help him make connections with other adults while Palmer merely watches from a distance. The years of nurturing Ned's interests seem to pay off when Ned shares a favourite poem with a stranger or earns his colleagues' admiration and wins 'Employee of the Week'. Yet parenting Ned is a balancing act; Ned also has some gaps in self-help skills, a habit of bombarding people with unsolicited accounts of his family genealogy, and difficulty discerning who his true peers are.Preparing Ned for the working world - teaching him to handle money and public transportation, and finding him a job - is a mix of ups and downs and sometimes has the author questioning his parenting style. Palmer wisely stays out of the way when Ned is working happily in the same office and he recognises the value of good job coaching when his son is lucky enough to get it. But it's trickier business when Ned loses money and skips the bus. Worry over Ned's vulnerabilities leads to finally telling his son what it means to have Down syndrome and, Palmer hopes, offering him a dose of reality. ADVENTURES IN THE MAINSTREAM will help families confront many of their hopes and fears as they try and coax a child with a disability into the adult world and toward greater independence. Other parents will appreciate Palmer's insights and struggles, as well as his ability to enjoy his son's strengths and foibles. This intelligent account also gives professionals a vital personal view of what families go through as they cope with their child's transition into adulthood.
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