How Hydrolyze Can Help

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When it comes to anti-aging creams, it is hard to find one that gives real, lasting results, and once disappointed, people refuse to buy any new market products. With eye creams, the problem is even bigger, since under eye area is very sensitive, and any wrong product can cause irritations and bags. Going through Hydroxatone reviews one can see that Hydrolyze Advanced Under Eye Formula is a perfect product for everyday use.

The best thing about Hydrolyze is that it reduces the puffiness around eyes, and makes them look fresher. Since it is paraben-free, it can be used daily, and no side effects will be experienced. Its effectiveness lies in Biophytex, Eyeliss and Dermox SRC, and when combined, these ingredients make perfect formula for every woman who needs to slow down the aging process. For full experience, this eye crème should be used every morning and evening, and can be used alone or even under makeup. According to Hydroxatone reviews, this eye cream gives first result after one month, and user can notice that some wrinkles are gone, and the skin tone in this area is really lighter. Unlike other products, one can order a trial pack and see for herself if the eye cream really works or not.

When One Should Start Looking for Wrinkle Cream

I have a twin sister and it’s something that many people find cute. While I am not really pleased about it now, I still owe learning about the best wrinkle cream to my sister. While we were having dinner last night at our favorite restaurant, a couple of men approached my sister. It took her a while to recognize the guys. After a minute of chitchat, she introduced me to the guys and told them that I am her twin sister. The look on their faces told me that they were stunned with what they learned. I even heard one of them whispering that he thought I was an older sister. The other guy simply laughed about what he was told. It was such an insult but it made me swear that I will do my best to look young again. My sister knew me too well that she did not have to ask me what was wrong. Instead, she advised me to find an anti wrinkle cream to freshen up my looks, and to check out this site. I guess taking on wrinkle treatments is something that I should consider immediately. I no longer want to be confused with her older sister when we are actually of the same age.

Purchasing Stop Snoring Pillows Online

sspoStop snoring pillows are said to minimize snoring while a person is asleep. This is specifically designed to align the neck and the spine in order not to cause airway obstruction. If you are interested in buying this kind of pillow, there are several sources where you can have this. First, you can find anti-snoring pillow in mattress stores. They often have several designs and types of pillows available for individuals who snore. Since they have variety of stop snoring pillows, you will not have a hard time purchasing it.

You can also purchase anti-snoring pillows through online stores. Several online stores are marketing these kinds of pillows and the good thing about it is you can have it at your convenience. You do not have to go to department or mattress stores just to find the perfect anti-snoring pillow for you. All you have to do is to browse the internet and choose the pillow you think can fit your head while sleeping. There are also some online stores that are selling affordable anti-snoring pillows. This can be a lot of savings on your part especially that you do not go out somewhere to purchase it. Just keep in mind to find a credible online for stop snoring pillows.
Guidelines In Buying Stop Snoring Pillows Online

There are several types of stop snoring pillows available in the internet. The good thing about purchasing these pillows in the internet is the convenience it can give to you. However, purchasing online is risky. You cannot see or touch the pillow physically and you are not sure if it is the perfect fit. Aside from that, you do not know how credible the online store is and you might end up being scammed with the offer. Hence, you have to be extra careful in purchasing stop snoring pillows online.

Before you decide to purchase this kind of pillow in the internet, make sure that you check the credibility of the store owner. Try to look the terms and conditions of their offers and the site’s payment scheme. Aside from that, search for feedbacks and reviews of the online store. Do not be lured by any online offers right away because it is also their marketing strategy to attract customers. As much as possible, purchase these pillows in the official websites of its manufacturers. You can only get the best pillow if you meticulously search the online store offering it. Hence, always take precaution whenever you decide to buy stop snoring pillows in any online stores.

Medical Billing Training Online

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For you who do not have the time to step into a class for lectures, you do not have to give up your medical billing training dream. Here is an opportunity for you; you can actually decide to embrace technology and acquire this knowledge right at the comfort of your room. Medical billing training online is actually an opportunity opened up for those people who desire some flexibility. The stay home moms, disabled people as well as the employed people who have tight schedules on their backs can decide to take up this amazing opportunity to increase their knowledge.

Many advantages come along with medical billing training online. For example, a person who has many family events to attend can have the flexibility of learning during his or her free time. However, this calls for some higher sense of discipline. The easiest way to get the best out of online medical billing training is by taking up the best hours of your day when your concentration is best to study. Early morning hours are the most preferable especially for those people who have a lot to do during the day. Alternatively, if you are a stay home mom, you can attend to your duties, and choose some hours during the day when everything has been attended to and concentrate on your books. Read about this at www.medical-billing.net

Medical Billing Training Opportunities

mbtoA medical student who wants growth in his or her career would always want to further his studies so as to stand out and be the best amongst his or her peers.  One of the many ways a student can stand out is through pursuing a course in medical billing. Medical billing training is a course that is offered by so many institutions all over the world. One may decide to go through the school either by online learning, or through the traditional learning way.

Online learning involves a student creating some personal time for catching up with his or her studies. It requires a very high sense of discipline since the student has no supervision at all. All he has to do is acquire a PC which is connected to the internet to be able to download lectures as well as other reading material from his teachers.

On the other hand, one may decide to go through his or her online medical billing training by means of the traditional way. This involves reporting to college depending on the schedule outlined by the college. Traditional means of training does not offer any kind of flexibility for the student. He or she has to attend classes depending on the outlined timetable and submit his or her assignments, tests and examination papers as scheduled.

Panic Attack In Teens

patitMy son is acting really weird lately. In fact, my husband and I are even planning to visit our doctor to know how to stop panic attacks. We suspect that he has anxiety disorder. Sometimes he talks about strange things. There are times when he feels like he’s in a dream. Just this morning, I went to his room to tell him that breakfast was ready. I was surprised when I saw him under his bed. He told me he was afraid of something but he could not explain what it was. I am really worried that this can lead to something worse. My son has to undergo panic attack treatment. I am thinking of inviting him to my yoga class. It’s a very healthful activity and this helps relieve stress. I have a feeling that my son is becoming more and more tensed about his academic standing. He has always been an honor student and he’s probably worried that he will not make it this school year. My son needs to relax. He has to start getting involved with social activities. He should not just lock himself inside his room and devote the entire day reading his book and doing his homework.

Family Problem May Lead to Panic Attack

I pity my best friend for everything that she is going through right now. When we were together this morning, she was busy browsing the internet. She told me that she badly needs to learn how to stop panic attacks. Her parents are fighting almost every day and it’s already affecting my best friend and her siblings. Whenever her father arrives home, her mother will start yelling at him. They will argue about a lot of things until they curse each other. These scenarios make my friend panic. She experiences excessive sweating and fast breathing when this occurs. My friend has asthma and based on her recent consultation with their family doctor, this medical condition of hers is another reason why she developed panic attack. I know how badly my friend wants to get rid of this condition. I wish she can still manage to enroll to a yoga class with me. A cousin of mine convinced me to start learning yoga. It is a great form of relaxation and it will certainly help her recover from her anxiety disorder. If she rejects my invitation, I will still encourage her to try it out some other time. I am just thankful that I am healthy enough to defend against such undesirable condition.

Inattention To Snoring

isMy brother and I often fight. He’s always not in the mood and he seems to be irritated at me all the time. After sleeping at his room last night, I came to realize where this bad behavior of him is coming from. My brother is a snorer and it is obvious that he is having a hard time having a restful sleep. I asked him what he does to treat his snoring and it’s a revelation that he is not doing anything to get rid of it. He is a very busy guy and it’s probably the reason why he does not have time to look after his health. Even if I am not in favor of his inattention to his health, I do not have the nerve to tell it to his face. All I can do now is to convince him to visit the doctor. I told him about palatal implants and laser snoring treatment but none of these appealed to him. Fortunately, when I mentioned about snoring pillows, he asked me to purchase one for him. I did not forget to tell my brother that snoring pillow is just a temporary relief to snoring. He still has to consult with the doctor to completely do away with it.

Bothersome Snoring’s Bad Impact on Family Affairs

I could not sleep last night because of my Dad’s snoring. My room is just beside my parents’ room but it’s still bothersome to hear my father’s snore given that distance. I think Dad forgets to consult with his doctor. He has been drinking quite frequently lately and he is obviously heavier now. His snoring definitely stemmed from these things. I will ask my mother to remind Dad of his health. I am sure that Mom is also having troubles sleeping in the same room with Dad. In fact, there are days when she seems to have a hard time concentrating on what she does. She lacks sleep and she looks old because of it. Dad has to be convinced to go to his doctor. He has to be aware of how much his snoring is affecting the entire family. I am sure he will listen. But while we are still trying to convince him to have his health checked, I will buy him some snoring pillows. These are comfortable cushions made especially for snorers. He can store onw in our car so that when he has to go somewhere else, he can still sleep silently and comfortably while travelling.

Guaranteed Safe and Effective Skin Tag Removal Products

My friends and I decided to spend a day at our favorite beach resort yesterday. While at the hotel room, one of my friends told me that I obviously gained weight. I got alarmed by her statement so I faced the mirror and took some time to scrutinize my figure. She was right. I really gained some pounds. But what surprised me more were the skin tags on my neck. I remember when I accompanied my mother to her skin doctor because of hanging skin on her neck and face. The doctor mentioned that one of the reasons why people develop skin tags is weight gain. I think I have to start observing a new dietary plan to slim down and prevent new skin tags from coming out. I must go back to the gym, too. But since I am well aware that losing weight does not happen overnight, I think I must do something to do away with skin tags. I once came across websites where topics on how to remove skin tags can be found. I will look for these websites tonight and try to further broaden my knowledge about this condition. I know that a lot of products designed to treat skin tags are out in the market.

beachtimesThere are many ways of how to remove skin tags that you can take on. However, there are factors that you need to consider before taking the first step in any skin tag removal procedure that you wish to observe. Safety is very important when dealing with skin problems. You have to be certain that the method you will pick is one that doctors recommend. You have probably heard about people who remove their skin tags by tying it off using dental floss and pulling it out. To some individuals, this option works. But there were people who got infected because of this procedure. If you don’t wish for something like this to happen to you, the best you can do is have your skin tags removed with the help of skin doctors. The experts know how to remove your skin tags in ways that will not put your health in danger. Aside from that, they can also provide you with pieces of advices not only on how to remove skin tags but also on how to stop the birth of new tags. Visit your skin doctor now and have your skin tags given medical treatment the soonest that you can.

As you search for reliable ways to remove skin tags, you will surely come across skin tag removal products. The market can provide you with a number of products which are designed for this purpose. However, you have to be very careful in selecting because not all these items are capable to endow sufferers of skin tags with desirable results. Do not rely your search on advertisements alone.

Some skin products may be advertised by the most popular celebrities but this does not guarantee the efficiency of the brand being endorsed. You have to look beyond what advertisements have to say about the product. You need to carefully study what the product claims and figure out if it is believable or not. Also, you have to evaluate the content of the skin tag removal product. It’s best to stick to products on of which ingredients are all derived from plants. Organic ingredients are safer compared to synthetics. The latter can cause negative side effects such as skin redness, itching and other forms of skin irritation. Most importantly, you need to take into account what your doctor has to say about the product you are targeting. You have to hear his approval first before you consume the product to ensure that it’s safe and effective.

Talking Autism… Now

ONE SUMMER, BOB LEHR PUSHED A VIDEOCASSETTE of “Rain Man” into his VCR. It was a movie he had put off seeing, despite Dustin Hoffman’s Oscar-winning performance as an autistic man. Sitting in the room with Lehr was his 16-year-old son, Ben, who at a young age had been classified as autistic. Currently, the Lehrs were told, he had an I.Q. of about 37 and the reasoning ability of a preschooler.

Although Ben attended high school in Syracuse, he wasn’t taking academic classes, and there was no evidence that he could read or understand arithmetic. His vocabulary was limited, and some of the things he said made no sense at all — they seemed to be random phrases picked up from television and school.

Over the years Ben had gouged himself with knives, ripped electrical sockets out of walls, taken a hatchet to the fiberglass bathtub and used his head to smash most of the windows in the house. In calmer moods, Ben liked to stare at objects, like tape-recorder reels, or stand at the kitchen sink, running the water through his fingers for hours.rman

When Raymond Babbitt, the Hoffman character, appeared on the screen, Ben rocked back and forth, moaned and hit the side of his neck, until his father grabbed a nearby laptop computer and asked, “Is there something you want to say?” With his hand resting on Bob’s for support, Ben typed out, “That man is autistic.”

Ben was using “facilitated communication,” a writing technique introduced to the United States from Australia in late 1989 by Douglas Biklen, director of the division of special education and rehabilitation at Syracuse University. As the name suggests, it is not a cure for autism but an aid to communication: a parent or teacher supports the arm of an autistic person as he or she types out messages on a keyboard, using the hunt-and-peck method. In the Syracuse area, 45 autistic children and adults using facilitated communication are expressing their feelings and helping explain some of the enigmatic behaviors associated with autism.

Autism is characterized by, among other things, an inability to feel love or form social attachments, a lack of self-awareness, mental retardation, difficulty understanding speech and an inability to grasp abstract concepts or symbols. Biklen’s researchers, however, are finding that some people who have been labeled unteachable can read, write, calculate and do schoolwork appropriate for their age.

Preschoolers use facilitation to tattle on classmates, and teen-age boys try to find out if girls are interested in them. At their keyboards, students write poetry, tell lies and even crack jokes. When Ben Lehr was asked, as part of his biology homework, to name two causes of high blood pressure, he answered, “Cholesterol and tests.”

At home, Ben has been using the keyboard to try to help his family understand his behavior. He attempts to describe the difference between being the gentle, likable young man so fondly regarded by his teachers and many friends, and being capable of such anger that it frightens him. It’s not “Ben” who causes such damage and pain, he has spelled out, but “host,” a term his sister Penny guesses came from his biology classes. Explaining host seems excruciating for Ben; in one two-hour session he ekes out the typing while screaming, banging his head on the floor, biting himself and hitting his mother, Sue, and his sister Sherry.

Facilitation has given Ben and others a voice, not a cure. It is therefore profoundly encouraging and profoundly frustrating. “What the students are telling us is that they don’t want to have autism, and that they want to be able to talk,” Biklen says. “And these are things that are probably not going to change.”

BIKLEN’S WORK IN SYRACUSE HAS ALREADY challenged the traditional understanding of autism. If it can be applied to a broader group of autistic people, facilitated communication could upset a half-century of thought about this baffling cluster of disabilities.

Before 1943, when Leo Kanner, a child psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University, published the first systematic description of the disorder in a medical journal called Nervous Child, autism was generally regarded as “childhood schizophrenia” or “childhood psychosis.” Kanner’s term, “infantile autism,” pointed to the child’s apparent preference to dwell in a self-generated world rather than form relationships with other people. And for decades, such withdrawal was blamed on insufficiently nurturing parents, popularly called “refrigerator mothers.”

Then in his 1964 book “Infantile Autism,” Bernard Rimland, founder of the Autism Society of America and director of the Autism Research Institute, argued that the causes of autism were neurological, not psychological. He cited, among other things, studies in which sets of identical twins were found to be autistic — while other siblings are almost never autistic, despite being raised in the same home. Other leaders in the field, notably Bruno Bettelheim, continued to treat autism primarily as a mental illness.

Even today the precise physical cause of autism remains elusive. Two hypotheses currently lead the pack: it may be a result of excess levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, or underdevelopment of the brain. In the meantime, relatives of the autistic find themselves bombarded with new causation theories, behavior modification techniques, medications and teaching methods. Some of these have improved the lives of some people, but many have merely disappointed.

Biklen initially regarded facilitated communication with skepticism. A specialist in mental retardation, he has worked for many years to integrate developmentally disabled children into mainstream classrooms, and in 1972 he helped start the nationally renowned program at Edward Smith Elementary School in Syracuse, at which developmentally disabled children attend classes with “normal” students.

He first read about facilitation in a 1980 book, “Annie’s Coming Out,” written by Rosemary Crossley and Anne McDonald. McDonald was born with cerebral palsy and lived from the age of 3 in St. Nicholas Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, a state-run institution, now defunct, for severely retarded people.

When Crossley, who had an undergraduate degree in humanities, became a “play leader” at the hospital in 1975, McDonald was 14 and her mental age was measured in months. Two years later, Crossley had taught her to read, and McDonald revealed a sophisticated ability to write and do math, although she required Crossley’s support on her arm to fight her powerful muscle spasms and point accurately to her answers.

In 1979, McDonald successfully sued for the right to leave St. Nicholas Hospital and has lived with Crossley ever since. McDonald went on to college and published journal articles about rights of the disabled.

Her case generated a white-hot controversy, with Australian psychologists and speech therapists accusing Crossley of putting words in McDonald’s hands, as it were. But the Supreme Court of the state of Victoria decided otherwise, ruling that McDonald could control her own life and finances. Five years ago, the Government recognized Crossley’s work with nonverbal people by honoring her as a Member of the Order of Australia.

While giving a series of talks in 1985 on integrating the disabled into conventional schools, Biklen had dinner at Crossley’s house in Melbourne and observed facilitation in action. He had never doubted that such a technique could work for some people with cerebral palsy, many of whom have normal or above-average I.Q.’s. But a year later when he got a letter saying that Crossley was using the same technique with an autistic child, he replied perfunctorily. “They were nice people, and I didn’t want to have to say, ‘You’re crazy,’ ” he recalls. “From what I knew about autism, and I knew quite a bit, it just didn’t make sense to me.”

Curious nonetheless, he revisited Australia twice, briefly in November 1988, and for six weeks in mid-1989. There he observed Crossley’s work at the DEAL (Dignity, Education and Language) Communication Center. Supported by the Government, the center has helped more than 800 people with non-speech communication.

Some Australian professionals warned Biklen away from the center, calling it a hoax. But the clients Biklen saw communicating through facilitation — including people labeled autistic — erased his doubts. Among them was the autistic boy Crossley had written to Biklen about in 1986, who, she says, had been used in Australia as a benchmark of the “unteachable, unreachable autistic child with no potential.” In Biklen’s presence, with a staff member’s hand resting on his shoulder, the boy typed: “I like Dougg butt hhe is maad . . . He talks to me like I’m human.”

On returning to the United States, Biklen described what he had seen in an article titled “Communication Unbound: Autism and Praxis,” which appeared in the August 1990 issue of the Harvard Educational Review. For Biklen, facilitated communication had become something more than an intriguing line of research. “It was important for me not only that I could in some way prove what I had seen,” he says. “But I also felt an absolute moral obligation to get it in place in the United States.”

Gifted Is The Word

When Maggie was still in the womb, meconium, the first stool passed by an infant, lodged in her breathing passage and hindered her ability to take in oxygen when she was delivered. An electronic fetal heart rate monitor might have helped, as it does for babies today. But in the 1960′s fetal monitoring was in its infancy. In fact, it wasn’t until the mid-1980′s that this device came into widespread use. Without a heart rate monitor to give a fetal distress warning, Maggie’s fate was sealed. She was born with irreversible brain damage.

My parents were devastated. I, on the other hand, not understanding the long-term implications of her disability, cheered her arrival. The third of four children, I liked the idea of having a baby sister. At the time I was too young to understand Maggie’s handicap, although it was evident early on. As an infant, she had difficulty coordinating her sucking and breathing and, thus, it was hard to give her a bottle. On her first birthday she could not sit, but had to be propped in a highchair by a pillow. Maggie did not begin to walk until she was 18 months old. But at the time none of this mattered to me. What I remember’ most about my baby sister was her thick, naturally curly, brown hair, which framed her delightfully round expressive face. She was funny and silly. When she finally learned to walk, she would spread her legs wide apart, bend over, sausage curls dangling, and peer at us between her legs with a broad smile sweeping across her face.

Of course, as the years passed and I grew older, I recognized that Maggie and I were different. Things that came easily to me, she had difficulty achieving on her own. To this day, for instance, she cannot tie her shoes; she lacks the Maggie McDonald and her fine motor ability for that. But the differences are much greater than this. While I moved from one exciting milestone to the next–boyfriends, graduations, a career, marriage, children–Maggie stayed at home with my parents, often spending her time in the solitude of her room, listening to music and putting puzzles together.

These are differences I see clearly in adulthood, but as a child I did not know any better. Maggie was simply my sister. It was when my innocence was tarnished with ignorance that I began to see her differently. A friend of my mother had a daughter a few years younger than Maggie. My mother kindly offered the woman some of Maggie’s hand-me-downs, but she quickly refused. The words, though unspoken, permeated the air–she did not want her child’s skin rubbing against the clothing worn by a “retard.” In her uninformed opinion, the risk would be too great. This occurred again and again. Daily I was bewildered to see parents passing their uneducated views onto their children, who in turn acted with unusual cruelty toward my sister. It was clear to me, even in my youth, that some adults, although they appeared friendly on the surface, were the kingpins of hate and their children were their hapless pawns.

A painfully shy and quiet child, I initially watched this progression with a certain detachment, until anger and rage grew and inevitably erupted. For me, silence was no longer an option. Maggie helped me find my voice. On days when she burst into the house in tears after being teased and taunted, I marched outside, bypassed the children and headed directly to the source–their parents. I remember telling them in no uncertain terms about the injustice and harm they were inflicting upon my sister. They often looked at me through their screen doors with glazed, steely expressions. It was a look I had seen before.

Some of the families attended our Catholic church. As was their routine, they’d parade into Mass dressed in their finest clothes and mindlessly participate in the service. They’d sit, stand, kneel, pray and sing, but when the priest gave a sermon with a lesson about love, kindness and acceptance, the families would fidget, whisper or stare ahead, pretending to listen but hearing nothing. I know this is true, for if they had heard even an eighth of the words spoken, they could have applied this goodness to their lives.

This is not to say that I have been a paragon of goodness myself. Nearly five years old when Maggie was born (the age my son Ryan is now), I’m sure I felt a loss when my parents’ attention shifted wholeheartedly to my sister. Sometimes, as an adult, I have asked my mother what I was like at five, six, seven or eight, and she can’t remember. In her words, years of her life were literally “blanked out” by Maggie’s circumstance; so years of my life were “blanked out” as well. I recall my parents being very overprotective of Maggie. Once, when she wandered away from our home in suburban Cherry Hill, N.J., they were hysterical with fear and blamed me and my older brother Tommy and my older sister Susie for her disappearance. After a lengthy search, Maggie reappeared on her own, innocent of the turmoil she had caused.

Her dependent existence boosted my early independence, but at the same time put severe restrictions on it. One day, out of pure frustration I said to her: “You’re retarded, you know. And I hate it. I hate it.” Although she had heard this from others, never before had she heard it from her own sister. My stark words stung, and she cried. A shower of guilt and shame washed over me. On that day I learned a vital lesson about sensitivity. Needless to say, I have never uttered chose biting words again.

Over the years, Maggie, without knowing it, has challenged me, forced me to grow as a person, especially during the times when I felt like buckling under the pain life often thrusts upon us. After the birth of my first son, I desperately hoped the second baby I was carrying would be the little girl I longed for. My mother, father and Maggie accompanied me and my husband, Tim, to my obstetrician’s office for a tell–all ultrasound. It was a jovial occasion. My father and husband placed dollar bets on the sex of the child, and my mother gave me a good luck doll as a gift for her future granddaughter. I felt sure it must be a girl, but the ultrasound revealed otherwise. I would have another son. I was devastated and cried uncontrollably. For more than an hour I lay across my bed and mourned the loss of the daughter I would never have.

My parents and Maggie waited patiently in the living room. But my mother soon appeared and said: “Enough crying. You’re having a son. But your doctor says he’s healthy. Be glad of that.” These words spoken by my mother, who clearly understood what it was to have an unhealthy child, provided an instantaneous reality check. Suddenly I felt petty and selfish. Maggie appeared in the doorway. As I glanced in her direction, wiping my tears, I decided I must try harder to count my blessings.

My parents have tried to do the same. Since Maggie’s birth they have held steadfast to the belief chat my sister is a “special gift from God,” as are all people with mental retardation. Honestly, this thought process never made any sense to me. Certainly it appears Maggie has been cheated out of a full life. She will never have a career, never have the love of a husband, never enjoy the pleasure of a sexual relationship, never have a child of her own, who in quiet moments would gently wrap tiny arms around her neck and whisper the words we mothers long to hear–”I love you, Mommy.” Knowing all of this, I have, in cynical moments, questioned whether Maggie is a gift or a cruel mistake, God’s faux pas. But then I dig deeper and believe there must be a purpose, a reason for her existence.

Not too long ago, our neighborhood play group gathered at Playspace, an interactive play area, which has a miniature restaurant, grocery store, doctor’s office and theater. In this setting our children engage in imaginative adult–like activities. Dressed in various costumes, Ryan and his buddies energetically performed a play. Off to the side of the stage stood a boy about their age with Down’s syndrome. He intently watched their humorous attempts at acting. My son and his friends recognized his interest but ignored him, and the boy was left to stand alone. At that moment I wished my son would break away from the pack, from the comfort sameness brings, and reach out to this child. I wished my child would dare to be different, would act with sensitivity, would look beneath the surface. I realized that day I had much to teach my children, but I wondered where to begin.

When Maggie finished reading the storybook to Ryan, they remained seated on his bed. He told her about our mad rush to a movie theater earlier on that day. I had promised to take the boys to the latest Disney movie, but just as our turn came to purchase the tickets, the attendant told us the movie was sold out. Ryan told my sister how sad this made him. Without missing a beat, she comforted him by saying, “If you don’t see it at the movies you can rent it when it comes out on video.” Practical by nature, Ryan appreciated her advice and exclaimed, “You’ve got a good brain, Aunt Maggie!” He patted her head. She smiled and said, “Thank you, Ryan.” The door creaked. In unison they turned and captured me spying on them. “Just seeing what you’re doing,” I explained. “We’re reading books, Mommy,” Ryan said. “O.K. then, I’ll get going,” I replied, sensing they wanted to spend some more time alone.

I bent down, picked up the laundry basket and headed to my bedroom. As I began to fold the clothing, the question that plagued me for so many years–why?–finally had an answer that made sense. I believe my sister and people like her have been sent to this earth on a mission. Their job is to challenge us, expose our weaknesses, build our strengths, discourage hate and encourage understanding. They’re here to show us that life isn’t perfect and neither are we. But there is hope for all of us if we take risks, step outside our own personal cocoons and embrace each other despite the superficial differences that conspire to tug us apart.

With the last shirt folded, I lumbered down the steps and into the kitchen to begin dinner preparation. Maggie’s and Ryan’s buoyant laughter chased after me. I won’t disturb them again, I thought. Maggie has a gift to share with my son. I want to give him time to unravel the beauty within the package.