Friday, 1 January 2010

On the 7th day of Christmas I'd like to introduce ...

the late Judith Scott

Although a sad story, I think this highlights how things have progressed for people with Down's Syndrome and as such I wanted to share it with you and thought it deserved a place here.  I also think that ultimately it had a happy ending which makes it worth reading.

Judith and twin sister Joyce were born on May 1st 1943 and for their first 7½ years they were virtually inseparable,  Then it was time for school and their parents were told that Judith was ineducable and recommended to place her in an institution.  Joyce awoke one morning to find the bed they shared was empty and the next time she saw Judith was in the institution.

At the institution following oral testing, Judith was assessed as having an IQ of only 30 and was therefore not offered any training.  Without Joyce, her childhood interpreter, she became severely alienated and developed behavioral issues but it was to be years before she was diagnosed as severely deaf explaining her communication problems.  Although the twins saw each other a few more times, eventually they lost contact.

In 1985, Joyce realised that by becoming her sisters legal guardian they could once again be close and after a struggle to locate her, Judith finally moved to California where she started going to the Creative Growth Art Center.  At first she was fairly uninterested in paint but a few months later she attended a fiber art class and suddenly a whole new world of expression opened up for Judith.  She was given complete freedom to choose her own materials and taking objects she would wrap them in carefully selected colored yarns to create diverse sculptures in many different shapes.  Many of her works also feature pairs indicating that her experience as a twin played an important part in her life.

Judith died peacefully in her sister’s arms at the age of 61, having outlived her life expectancy at birth by almost fifty years.  

Having already corresponded briefly with Joyce, I was excited to unexpectedly meet her at the World Congress in Dublin and to have the opportunity to view Outsider a film about Judith's life and work.  It was incredibly emotional to see her and Joyce together and the wonderful connection between them and wonderful to know that after the sadness of many years of separation that they were eventually reunited and shared quality time together.   You can read more of their incredible story and Judith's work here. 

1 comment:

  1. Penny,
    This is a great story, i have never heard about it before. it is inspiring, this explains that there is hope for every Down Syndrome kid, young adult and the adult.I hope their families will begin to accept the kids, also allow them to communicate with the general world.There is so much potentials embedded in each one of them. This story needs to appear in every D.S webpage.It will help so many families.


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