Jason Kingsley, Mitchell Levitz
At ages nineteen and twenty-two, respectively, Jason Kingsley and Mitchell Levitz shared their innermost thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams, their lifelong friendship―and their experiences growing up with Down syndrome. Their frank discussion of what mattered most in their lives―careers, friendships, school, sex, marriage, finances, politics, and independence―earned Count Us In numerous national awards, including the EDI Award from the National Easter Seal Society. More important, their wit, intelligence, candor, and charm made a powerful and inspirational statement about the full potential of people with developmental disabilities, challenging prevailing stereotypes.
Now, thirteen years later, the authors discuss their lives since then―milestones and challenges, developments expected and unexpected―in a new afterword.
Gen of North Coast Gardening on Amazon wrote:
I read this book for a class of people who deviate from the neurotypical path. The only qualm with the book is the interview style of the book which I found very hard to follow as the dates jumped around and the dialogue was mixed throughout each other. I did very much appreciate the ability to read verbatim the perspective of both men and their families, which allowed me to practice empathy in their experience.
I've never read a book by people with Down Syndrome before, and haven't gotten to meet many people with Down Syndrome either, so it was a real pleasure to get to meet and understand what these two young men are thinking and feeling on a variety of topics from having Down Syndrome, school and interacting with others, what their dreams are for their future, how they feel about women, marriage, and children, etc.
It was a hard book to sit down and read front to back because the book was structured as a series of quotes from both boys or conversations between them and their family members, and also because the way they phrase things is different from what I am used to, so I instead enjoyed reading a few chapters a day.
I was a little taken aback at some of Jason's attitudes towards women at that time, but I appreciate that he was a high school student at that time and may have matured in his viewpoints since then - I know I am very different from when I was a high-schooler! People with strong religious convictions may prefer to read this book before handing it off to their teen with DS, since the views are largely secular.
This was a valuable and unique look inside the heads of two strong young men who are working hard to be accepted and beloved contributors to society, and I am so glad they wrote this book to share their thoughts with us.