Friday, July 27, 2012

He is the only person in the country with Down Syndrome who owns his own restaurant. He is a real special guy from Albuqerque, New Mexico and he is Tim Harris. It is worth noticing because quite frankly people like him don’t do what he is doing. Of course the credit is due to his parents who have done incredible parenting and of course to Tim who has embraced his role in life with gusto.
People who are born with Down Syndrome are special in that they are born with an extra copy of a chromosome in their genes. It wasn’t until 1959 that Dr. Jerome Lejeune, a French physician, made the discovery that Down Syndrome was the result of a chromosomal abnormality so there is no pill or operation that can make one ordinary just like most people.
It is not hereditary, not from your parents. It is simply what it is. For every 800 babies that are born, one will have Down Syndrome and this group of the population will look somewhat similar in appearance and it can affect people of all ages, races, religious backgrounds and economic situations. All people with this will have some degree of intellectual disability but are 90% happy and 10% stubborn. I wish I could be ninety percent happy.
So, given the challenges one faces with the condition, it takes great parenting to be able to cope and give your child a sense of true self worth. There is no reason not to raise your child with the same expectations as you expect from other children. Tim Harris is able now to not only live on his own but also owns his own restaurant. Ok, you are not a failure if your Down Syndrome relative is not doing what this person is doing. None of us can live up to anyone’s level of expectation anyway. This family is just clever in finding a way to give Tim a great life.
My friend grew up being in special education classes and can never forget how different everyone was in those classes even to the point that some classmates were extremely amorous, yes, too touchy and feely in reaching out to be friendly . She rightly so, did not want the advances but coped with the situations in her own way, she decked the guy as Tim’s family dealt with his amazing friendliness in their way.
Tim greets everyone who comes to the restaurant and gives the customers a hug and a seat. His father is a small business owner and helped Tim to secure his own place financially. Other people are hired to do the boring stuff like the cooking and cleaning and financials. Tim gets to do the fun stuff and the most important stuff, which is being friendly and giving the customers a good feeling about their dining experience and want to return to the restaurant. So, in essence it turns out that Tim has the most important job of all.
Being the front man, it is important for a family restaurant to give the customers a family feel. So, instead of telling him not to get too friendly as most Down Syndrome people are told, he is opening doors for people and giving hugs. Who does that? The quote unquote normal people hate being that friendly. Yes, Tims assets are being used to his fullest in his family.
There, love is not only in the air, you can even order a hug from the menu and even if you don’t order it, chances are you will get a hug anyway; if you’re lucky Tim might even tweak your nose. Who does that? He even keeps a hug counter and is quick to tell you that he has almost 19,000 hugs. It is good to take your job seriously.
They even plan to  expand into more locations. The restaurant is simply known as Tim’s Place that serves breakfast, lunch and hugs. Imagine a world where people can expand on their abilities and suppress the disability factor. A place where kids can interact with other kids in school and someone have the patience to teach a special needs kid to touch a girl appropriately instead of have her feel violated. We all need touching but touching where all can feel good about it.

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