Katelyn Cook is busy with specialization courses, part-time employment, obtaining her driver’s license, and advocating for the rights of people with disabilities through her writing.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A teenage girl from Knoxville doesn’t let her disability deter her. Instead, the talented student, author, musician and PA advocate works to normalize life with Down syndrome.
Katelyn Cook is busy with specialization courses, a part-time job, getting her driver’s license, working with diversity groups, and making time for her favorite hobby.
“I’m currently working on a book that I need to finish. And I’m going back to some of my older ones,” she said.
Katelyn has been writing stories for as long as she can remember.
“I would just take these stories that I would play through my dolls and turn them into writing as I get older and move away from plastic,” she said.
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Katelyn now uses her writing for advocacy.
“However, a lot of people, like, I’ll tell them I have Down syndrome and they say to me, ‘You can’t have Down syndrome. You don’t look like it. “But that’s because I have Mosaic Down syndrome.”
Mosaic Down syndrome is diagnosed when only some of a person’s cells have an extra chromosome, not all of them.
This diagnosis is rare. According to Down Syndrome Education, two or three in every 100 children diagnosed with Down syndrome have the Mosaic variety.
“A lot of times I feel certain things, and a lot of people don’t,” Katelyn said. “I’m not coordinated. Really, I can’t balance myself for my life. I can’t ride a bike or jump rope.”
There are also physical setbacks, which means many doctor’s appointments.
“Jaw problems didn’t start until I was older, but I have had ear infections since I was born. And I was diagnosed with sleep apnea when I was nine,” he said. she declared.
Katelyn will have surgery to correct her jaw next month, which should also help her fight her sleep apnea.
In order to help her family cover the costs, she started a GoFundMe.
But through it all, Katelyn doesn’t view her diagnosis as a setback.
“Honestly, I feel like you can live with a disability and do whatever you want, as long as you do it in a way that’s right for you, even if you have to change some things,” she said. declared. “It’s difficult, but it’s good to recognize that you have a disability and that you are still living.”
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Katelyn uses her writing to let others see her positive perspective.
“I try to set an example for other teens to raise awareness not only about Mosaic Down Syndrome, but anything that can potentially make someone’s life more difficult by writing or posting on social media or quite another thing, ”she said.
For anyone looking for inspiration, here are Katelyn’s tips.
“Don’t watch what everyone else is doing,” she said. “Look at what you are doing and what you have to do in order to be able to do what you want to do.”
The senior from South Doyle High School will be graduating in the spring and is considering becoming a teacher of creative writing.