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For Slayton, Chores Have Paved The Way to Skills and Confidence

Stacy Lynn shares the inspiring story of her son, Slayton

Little By Little

Slayton is a kind, strong, well-adjusted 16-year-old now, but what a jellyfish, wreck of a baby he was! I wondered at times, if he had any muscles under that skin and if he’d ever roll over, sit up, or even swallow his food by himself. However, he was spunky and strong-willed, and I was determined to help him! After all, adversity is the breeding ground for success, right?

Slayton lives with me, his mama, his stepfather Rick, and his younger brother Julian, who is 15. The two boys are homeschooled, and we are tightly knit. Early on, I chose to do his PT and OT and trained him in just about all skills. Chores and projects have been my choice of teaching since the early days. So many skills can be gained by retrieving items, maneuvering a broom and dustpan, filing folders, and following multi-step instructions. These not only build his skillsets for the future but also are boosting his self-esteem. My dad always said, “The more you know how to do, the more options you have.” Slayton needs as many options as possible.

Stacy Lynn, Slayton's mom, shares an inspiring story of her son's march to independence. Their story and many others provide inspiration and sage advice with The Essential Guide for Families with Down Syndrome.

As Slayton has gotten older, and more proficient in the chores he does, I have expanded his training to the outdoors. Raising three boys (the other is now 27), dirt, woods, and hard, sweaty work are a natural part of life. Chores and tasks are chosen based on the skills Slayton still needs to develop. Two years ago, for instance, I decided we needed to carve a garden out of our bushy backyard. This involved clearing brush, digging roots, securing fencing to bamboo poles, digging mounds of earth, tilling, and building garden boxes assembled from pallet wood. We even built a large fort 7 feet off the ground in between growing seasons! Slayton helped with every aspect of these projects.

It sounds so simple when written in these short sentences, but this was a two-year-long process. Like everything taught to Slayton before this, every skill had to be broken up into smaller chunks and done with a lot of repetition. For instance, it took 15 minutes for Slayton to maneuver the drill chuck and secure it into place, and even longer to push the drill against the pole, while pulling the pole towards the drill so the screw would go into the pole. Spending this much time on one single little skill seems irrational by most standards… and it certainly feels that way in process. But he must learn to do all he can for himself in order to fulfill the level of independence we want for him, and that he wants for himself.

Hobbies Develop Passions

Slayton has developed some passions that foster performance and pride. Slayton LOVES playing the drums. It’s one of his favorite hobbies and he plays well. He also tap dances with typical students at a large dance studio. Not bad for a boy who still can’t clap to a tempo and struggled for years to skip and pedal a bike. If we ever need something done methodically with a shovel, Slayton is the first one we call!

He was the preferred digger when we put in our small orchard this past spring because his holes were so perfectly shaped. He can do all of his self-care activities, with some tweaking of his collar, a cuff, and the fixing of an occasional rogue hairdo. These accomplishments are encouraging because they remind us that he CAN and (eventually) will succeed in whatever he sets his mind to.

Slayton’s Future is Bright

Although Slayton is capable in many areas now, he still has a long way to go towards independence. We are currently working on how he interacts with his peers and what appropriate behavior looks like in different situations using role-play. He still isn’t as aware of his surroundings as he needs to be, like when he’s walking in a parking lot near moving cars or near the street. We are beginning to practice doing job interviews, and transactions at the store and online. Slayton doesn’t have a solid understanding of money and its value, so this will take some work. He is wanting a ‘real’ job, so how to fill out an application is going onto our ‘to learn’ roster. For now, he is pacified by doing small jobs for friends or family and getting paid, which he likes.

Little by little we inch forward. I don’t know what the end-result will look like, but there are a couple of things I do know for sure. One is that ready or not, Slayton was given to me, not some other mom. I must be the one best equipped to help prepare him, even if I don’t always feel I am, so I will exhaust my efforts to help him. The second certainty is that with God, all things are possible, and I trust that He will make up the difference.

Stacy Lynn, Slayton's mom


I'm thrilled to announce The Essential Guide was honored with the Gold Award by the Nonfiction Authors Association!

The Essential Guide provides step-by-step support to:

  • Inspire mindset shifts toward one of independence and possibilities

  • Foster independence building blocks from the earliest age

  • Highlight health risks and financial resources every family must know

  • Detail education and work options to promote community inclusion

  • Evaluate family- and community-based home options including the search process

The Guide presents action items and worksheets to equip you with a clear timeline and path. The resources and references sections will save you time and money in your search for information and organizations that support your family’s journey.

“As parents, we are the experts of our loved ones, and this is an excellent resource in navigating our own decisions to better support the goals and dreams of those we love.” Tara Goodwin, D.O., Adult Down Syndrome Clinic, QuestCare Dallas

Friedman intersperses relatable and inspiring stories from a wide array of families. Insights from many experts in the fields of communications, education, health, and financial planning provide the confidence and guidance for you to navigate your family’s path toward independence.


Beyond Down Syndrome is proud to donate a portion of all book sales proceeds to LuMind IDSC to support Down syndrome research specifically focused on the link with Alzheimer's disease. Did you know that 12% of the US population will be afflicted by Alzheimer's but 95% of the Down syndrome community will have Alzheimer's by the age of 65, often exhibiting first signs decades earlier. Together we can make a difference!


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