-- (Editor's note: October is Down syndrome awareness month. This article originally appeared on the blog A Day in My Life With Down Syndrome. It has been reprinted here with permission. Penny's mom, author Amy Julia Becker, told ABC News that Penny typed the first paragraph herself and dictated the rest to her mother, which she typed verbatim.)
My name is Penny Becker. I like to wake up first thing in the morning. I like to get my flipflops on because my flipflops are more comfortable than my bare feet. I come downstairs first thing I see my mom, Amy Julia, and my dad, Peter, my little sister Marilee who is four and a half, and William who is only seven. I am nine and a half.
We get breakfast set up. I like to have bagel with cream cheese on top and on the side, with orange juice and strawberries.
At home I like to read after breakfast. Some of my favorite books are Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary, Gooney Bird Greene, McKenna, Ready to Fly, and Superfudge by Judy Blume. I like these books because they all have in common girls and boys my age who do things I like to do like gymnastics, reading in bed, going to school, and being an older sibling. McKenna has crutches because she broke her ankle.
I get my sneakers, socks, and braces on, get my backpack on, and leave for the bus stop with my mom or dad. I get on Bus 27 with my friends named Meredith, Heather, Yolanda, and Abigail, who are kind of silly. Some days I get to sit in the back.
At school I get off the bus and give a hug to Mikey because he is my friend. Some highlights of my day are unpacking my backpack, seeing my friends Toni and Sophia and Phoebe and Abbie and Katherine. My next highlight is putting my stuff at my desk and I put my water bottle beside my desk because of the Chromebook because you can’t get water on the Chromebook. Mrs. Smith, my computer teacher, told us that we cannot get food or water or juice on our Chromebooks. I like math because I have my friends Toni and June and Mrs. Kaitani and Mrs. Reen and Mrs. Cohen. We have a mad minute which was adding today. Tomorrow will be subtraction. I like having a project on grasslands, which are tall grasses. School is fantastic!
My activities after school are reading on the couch, change into dresses -- which I love -- ballet, acro, homework, and piano.
Every night we eat dinner but my favorite is a cheeseburger medium, no pickles, no onions, with ketchup at a restaurant in town. Usually after the restaurant we get back late. But otherwise we go upstairs around 7:30, get in our pajamas, brush our teeth, and read. Some of our favorite books are The Moffatts, Anne of Green Gables -- but I don’t like one part -- and Matilda.
Some of my challenges are backbends, handstands, and I’m working on my cartwheels because I’m doing gymnastics with other friends.
I almost forgot to tell you about Down syndrome. My mom and dad thought it was going to be scary because they thought Down syndrome would hurt me and other people. But it actually was not scary and I did not get hurt. I have a great life.