Abigail Adams has had many challenges to overcome. But, that didn’t stop her. She has become a public speaker, model, actress, and athlete. She is a Down syndrome advocate who is working hard to motivate people to reach for their full potential.
Every day is a celebration, a blessing, and a testimony to the importance of determination!
A Rough Start for this Baby with Down Syndrome
Like many babies with Down syndrome, Abigail was born with an Atrial Septal Defect, basically a hole in her heart. Fortunately, she did not require surgery. Still, the condition was cause for great concern. On top of that, she was diagnosed with “low (muscle) tone,” meaning her muscles were abnormally weak. This made it hard for her to speak clearly. Even more, she was unable to digest food properly which resulted in her getting nutrition through a feeding tube for six months.
Her pediatrician diagnosed her condition as a “failure to thrive.” Her parents weighed her weekly and monitored her calories and nutrition. When Abigail should have been learning to crawl, she had to be held upright to ensure her feeding tube wouldn’t come out. Eventually, doctors removed her feeding tube. And she made up for that time when she should have been crawling and exploring as a baby.
Her inability to communicate clearly greatly hampered Abigail’s ability to make friends and engage in typical children’s activities. Early intervention was a critical factor in Abigail’s success. She began a variety of therapies designed to help her live a successful, “normal” life. Her doctor and parents introduced supplemental vitamins into her diet, beginning in utero. Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Occupational Therapy, along with Infant Swimming became part of her regular routine.
Keeping Herself Busy with Sports and Social Activities
In her early teens, Abigail was overweight and her acid reflux was so bad she often vomited at school and at home. After trying numerous diets and coping with the tests doctor after doctor performed on her, Abigail began to see steady improvement after a change in her diet and exercise program. Abigail has been on a gluten- and dairy-free diet for several years. The good news is that it has relieved 95% of her acid reflux problems.
Casual sports were always a part of her routine, but then she started exercising in earnest. She began programs that involved organized activity at least 4 to 5 times per week.
She participated in gymnastics, cheerleading, swimming, walking, running, biking, stand-up paddleboarding, and soccer over the course of time. As she associated more and more with other kids who communicated well, she became a better speaker. And the better she communicated, the more she could participate in social activities!
Abigail became involved in Daisys, Brownies, Girl Scouts, theater classes, Sunshine Club, dance classes, high school cheerleading, acting classes, local fashion shows, volunteering for charities, and participated in dozens and dozens of fundraisers.
Abigail’s speech improved dramatically. She is now gregarious and leads a happy and full life. Through years of hard work and support from friends and family, Abigail has grown into a confident and largely independent young woman. Every day is a celebration, a blessing, and a testimony to the importance of determination!
Growing Up to be a Diversity and Inclusion Advocate
Today, Abigail Adams is a public speaker, model, actress, and athlete. She has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, the NFL Pro-Bowl halftime show, in commercials for Disney World and Universal Studios Volcano Bay, walked the runway in New York City’s Fashion Week, and was a guest speaker at the annual meeting of the International Cheer Union – an organization that represents cheerleaders from 70 nations.
“Abigail the Advocate” has inspired thousands of people all over the world. Furthermore, she has also helped raise millions of dollars for charities including St. Jude’s Children’s Hospitals, Children’s Miracle Network, and Special Olympics. She now works to inspire others to overcome their personal obstacles! Abigail believes we all have challenges in life, but our purpose is to become the very best we can be!