The inspiring life of Michael,
my brother with Down syndrome
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Is the seemingly impossible..… actually possible?
Children with Down syndrome born prior to 1972 were often referred to as “Mongoloid babies.” Most of these children were institutionalized because of their internal and external deformities. This was certainly the societal situation into which Michael was born in 1954. The attending physician’s recommendation was to leave him in the hospital because his life expectancy was very short: two days, possibly two weeks, but no longer than two months. Supposedly this solution would spare the family the hardship of Michael’s inevitable death.
Our parents struggled with the doctor’s prognosis—until the decisive day when our father marched into the hospital to inform the doctor of his decision…
That marked the beginning of our family’s involvement in caring for Michael, and would change our lives forever. He had mental and physical limitations that required our attention for years. But as Michael grew up, he made enormous progress in motor skills and developed an engaging personality that brought us endless joy.
By his mid-twenties, Michael was actively developing his own goals, ideas, and dreams—many of which seemed inconceivable to our family, who had cared for him since birth. But Michael never gave up his quest to follow the longings of his heart. His dreams and goals were clearly realistic in his eyes.
This biography details the courageous journey of a man who never gave up on his dreams and of the lives he touched along the way.
Bill Shields is Michael’s brother, friend, and scribe on their journey of fifty-six and a half years. He is the guide, mapping out the treasures locked within the amazing life of Michael Christopher Shields.