A New Life
In 1984, Judy and Jerry Horton were living in Austin, Texas, looking forward to the empty nest as two of Judy's three daughters, whom they had raised together over the past 11 years, were in college and the third in high school. Judy was a graduate student in Latin American Studies, and Jerry was finishing up a Ph.D. in Community College Administration, both at UT-Austin. They were enjoying Austin life at its best, a life filled with family, friends and music.
Their musings over how those empty nest years would be filled took a sudden turn in a new direction when Judy learned she was pregnant with their first child together. Several months later Kelly Page Horton made her entry into the world.
She was fat, bald, and beautiful - and bore the unmistakable marks of Down syndrome. This meant that Kelly would most likely always need help to live a good life. A new journey had begun.
Judy and Jerry had spent most of their working years at colleges and universities. Good researchers both, they investigated every aspect of Down syndrome - medical, social, spiritual, legal, and financial. Soon they began to wonder: How do adults with intellectual disabilities (the term now preferred over "mental retardation") live? What needs, if any, do they have that distinguish them from others? Are there optimal conditions under which they tend to really prosper?
They knew Kelly would be fine as long as she was in school and living at home, but what about when she graduated from high school? Where would she find friends? Where would she live? Who would care for her? Challenge her? Would the government pay for it? Would she be able to work? If she were able, could she find a job?