Margaret (Gary) Bender

I live in Colorado and have three children, my middle daughter Alex, now 19 has Down syndrome. In my professional life I have been a trader, a banker, a learning manager and a facilitator. I enjoyed all of these careers and learned something from everyone of them. Now I am one of the millions of Americans who is unemployed and searching for a job, without my luck.

All these careers have been fulfilling, but I always was missing something and began to write about my daughter with Down syndrome. My dream is to create a better life for Alex and all her peers. To that end I have become very involved in advocacy, the school system and asset based community development. I do consulting work on the side, whenever possible, as paychecks are important.

I have been blogging since 2009 and sharing Alex's triumphs and challenges as she navigated high school and now her "gap" year before she goes to college. Last year I finished my first project, a book called “From Grief to Celebration, How One Family Learned to Embrace the Unexpected Gift of Down Syndrome”. I hope to help others; especially those with younger children with Down syndrome learn that the future is bright. It has been well very well received and is available though our blog or amazon.

Alex you ARE a super hero!

In the last two years we have done some future planning with Alex. We have used the PATH process to help Alex articulate her dreams for her future and the steps needed to make these dreams positive and possible. ...more

My two cents on education

When Alex was born 19 years ago we lived in a well-funded school district. Services and supports were available from her birth until she started kindergarten. These services were provided by a cooperative of special education districts and were my first teachers. At age four Alex was dually placed in a special education program and a local pre-school for two years....more

Our Thanks for 2012: A Bright Future, A Changing System

When I was a little girl I was often asked “what do you want to be when you grow,” and although my answer changed often -- and still does change -- many of my dreams for my future were realized. When asked what Alex “wants to be when she grows up” she answers just like I did. She wants to have a husband, a job and lots of friends. She wants to play sports and participate in community activities, she wants to choose her own future and be a part of it. We will honor this. But for many of our young adults today, choice has been compromised....more