Jeannine Cleary and Frank ten Brink have three children. Peter, who’s now 29, has Down syndrome.
“Peter has always been aware he has Down syndrome, which wasn’t a problem until he reached adolescence,” shared his mother, Jeannine Cleary. “Around sophomore year he began to notice his older brother and peers were passing him up by getting their driver’s licenses and making plans to leave home and go to college. This feeling of being left behind triggered a whole set of challenges we couldn’t have anticipated when he was younger. “
Peter started seeing Dr. Brian Chicoine at the Adult Down Syndrome Center when he was about 15 years old.
“Peter is a particular guy and doesn’t take to just anyone, but he loved Dr. Chicoine from the minute he met him. That says a lot. He knew he could trust him.”
Peter also benefited from appointments with Dr. Dennis McGuire, the Center’s former director of psychosocial service.
“Peter expresses his feelings very articulately. He really enjoyed having a listening ear through Dr. McGuire and being able to talk to someone he trusted about his feelings,” shared Jeannine.
Peter and his family have faced several challenges over the years, and the Center has always been there for support and to help guide them through.
“It would have been much scarier had we had to figure it all out on our own. The staff treats each patient as an individual. Even though a person has Down syndrome, they each have their own personality, needs, desires, challenges and levels of ability. We’re so grateful and feel so lucky to have that understanding for Peter.”
Jeannine and her family are also generous donors to the Center.
“We give because we’re grateful to have a local expert like Dr. Chicoine who can meet Peter’s unique needs,” she said. “He’s getting care he wouldn’t get anywhere else, and we feel so lucky to have the Center in our community.”
They’re also passionate about supporting research and education.
“Dr. Chicoine and the staff have collected a plethora of information over the years. They’re participating in research, sharing their findings and collaborating with other doctors to help future generations of individuals with Down syndrome. There’s nothing like the Center, not only here but nationwide.”
How you can help
The Adult Down Syndrome Center recently launched its new $5.5 million fundraising campaign: At the Center of it all. One of the campaign’s priorities is to hire a psychologist who can meet the unique mental health care needs of individuals with Down syndrome.
“We’re hoping and anticipating that a psychologist will be hired. Mental health care is just as important as caring for physical needs. It’s true for our family and so many others who have loved ones with Down syndrome,” shared Jeannine.