When you appear and sound different than others, it’s hard to find someone who understands what’s underneath the surface.
Lisa Hodge is determined to spread awareness about Down syndrome and people with Down syndrome with a new book, “I Have Down Syndrome.”
“I just wanted to get the word out there that there are positive, great things that can come from a person with Down syndrome,” Hodge said. “A person with Down syndrome can do great things. They may have their challenges, but they can excel just as anyone else can.”
Eighteen years ago, Hodge was presented with the opportunity to meet and form a close bond with a person with Down syndrome, her nephew, Jordan Rose, or Jordy as Hodge and other family members have nicknamed him.
“When Jordie was born, we started researching and wanted to know more about Down syndrome,” Hodge said. “We found a lot of things, and a lot of things weren’t really positive.”
Hodge said she and her sister, Teresa Rose, Jordan’s mother, weren’t sure what to expect when Jordan was born.
“We wanted to know what will he be like, what will a day be like for him,” said Hodge.
As Jordan grew and amazed his family with his abilities and talents, Hodge began to get and idea.
“About five years ago, when he was 12, I decided I’m going to write a book about a day in the life of Jordy,” Hodge said.
Not only did Hodge write the book, but she also did all of the illustrations throughout the book.
After completing the book, Hodge didn’t know what the response would be, so she put the book away for nearly four years. Not even Teresa, Jordan’s mother, knew that Hodge had written the book.
“I kind of didn’t say much about it until it was going to be published,” Hodge said.
Finally, Hodge decided to pass the book around to publishers to “see what happened.” She got a response from Christian Faith Publishing, which shared Hodge’s goal of raising awareness about Down syndrome.
“They agreed this was a good tool to reach the public, and it was positive,” Hodge said.
Then, Hodge surprised her sister, Teresa, one day with the book.
“She said, ‘I’ve got something to show you,’” Teresa said. “I cried, it was awesome. It was what we needed. It was describing things that weren’t in other books, and it was positive. It talks about the things he can do. It made me proud.”
Jordan is a proud Texas Tech fan and even said he might not be able to make Hodge’s book signing on February 4 from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. at United in Levelland because there might be a basketball game.
“Well we hope you can make it,” Hodge said with a smile.
Luckily, Texas Tech will not play until 6 p.m. that day.
Also, Jordan is an avid guitar player and loves to play Johnny Cash, George Strait, Clint Black and other country singers. He also enjoys playing the drums. He now has his eye on learning to play the stand-up bass and violin.
Hodge said the main goal of her book is to educate the public and make them aware that people with Down syndrome aren’t as limited as they think.
“Above everything, the goal is to educate the public that people with Down syndrome are great people,” Hodge said. “They have gifts and talents, just like anyone else. That’s what the book is about. Their lives are challenging and rigorous but they get through with the support of family and friends.”
Hodge said the response to her book has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I’ve had nothing but positive remarks,” Hodge said.
Currently, Hodge is working on the second installment in a series of “special needs” books. Her next book will be about Asperger’s syndrome and autism.
She plans to write even more books to raise awareness for people who live with special needs.
“They’ll be in lehman’s terms so we can all ready about them and know what to expect,” Hodge said.
Teresa said she wishes success on her sister because it’s an important cause.
“For her series, I want it to be everywhere,” Teresa said. “It’s just knowledge in the pages and the more knowledge the better.”
Hodge will host a book signing Saturday, February 4, from 2-4 p.m. in Starbucks at United. She will also be reading to third graders at South Elementary on Friday, February 3. Thursday, Hodge donated one of the books, personally autographed by Jordan, to the Hockley County Library.