I can't really give the birth story but I will do my best to depict what the first few years of my brothers life were like. My parents dated in high school, my mom was sick, no one knew why, went to the ER, found out she was 18 and pregnant. From what I've gathered, my mama's pregnancy was normal throughout the nine month duration, and after laboring all night welcomed a baby boy.

Tyler James Welch
February 16, 1990 6:30a
8lbs, 6oz 20 inches
Rogers, AR

I think this is where most people can say 'everything went so great and he is so healthy'. Not my family, everything wasn't okay and he wasn't healthy. The doctors took him back to give him the normal newborn check-up, my mom didn't see him for 12 hours. Despite the prolonged newborn check, they were sent home the next day with an appointment scheduled at Arkansas Children's Hospital for three days later. They got to Little Rock and his jaundice was so bad that his heart was the least of their concerns. What was supposed to just be an afternoon of tests turned into being away from home for a week. {mind you, they were 18. I had a baby at 19, a super healthy, happy baby, and it was still hard. I can't imagine.} 

Fast forward to six weeks old, Tyler had major surgery, an AV Canal Repair. According to Mayo Clinic definitions, Atrioventricular Canal defect is a combination of several abnormalities in the heart present at birth, which occurs when there's a hole between the chambers of the heart and problems with the valve that regulate the blood flow in the heart. Tyler basically had no valve in his heart and many holes in his upper and lower chambers. Tyler has Down's syndrome.

Mom says, the genetics doctors were brutally honest. Tyler was tested again, after being under the bili lights {for his jaundice} for a week. Results stated that he would be lucky to walk, but not to expect much more. He would never write his name, he would never be coordinated enough to play sports.

Boy, were they wrong.

A year later, at his 12 month check-up, Tyler was given a ball and asked to throw it, he did, at the doctor's forehead in fact. Which is somewhat of a symbol, like "kiss my butt, watch what I can do!"

Fast forward about another year to when I was born! Oh, Happy Day. For years, I am sure that I didn't know that Tyler was any different than me. He was my big brother and I loved him for that. He was my first friend and for that I will always be thankful. As happy and sweet as that sounds that's not how it's always been. Obviously, we were brother and sister so you have to know there were times we argued, fought, got on our mom's nerves just like any other siblings.

I look back on things I did/said to Tyler, that I can never take back and I pray that he doesn't remember what I will never forget. I used to be so embarrassed by him. Why? Maybe it was that he sang while listening to his iPod on the school bus, not knowing that others around him could hear. Maybe it was because people made fun of him? I don't know, but I will say that out of all the mistakes I have ever made, ever, that is my biggest regret. Not protecting him from others who were so mean, not standing up for him, just putting on the blinders and pretending it wasn't happening. I regret that. Especially because he would always stand up for me, "Stop! that's my sister!".

Tyler started playing sports around age five and has never stopped, he is about a week shy of turning 24, and still plays basketball and swims on the swim team. I recall going to tons of Special Olympics tournaments for Tyler. I didn't realize it until I was in my Junior year of HS but I loved watching him compete, it makes him so happy. He can get a participation ribbon and be the happiest athlete you've ever seen, such a good sport.

When I was 9 and Tyler was 11, my mom met our step-dad, Jason. They say it takes a special person to be a step-parent, well, can you imagine loving a child that's not yours, and on top of that trying to learn how to care for a child with special needs. Jason did it, he has been a blessing to our family and such a role model for both my brother and me. I know I didn't show it at times but I am thankful he stepped up to the role and has always been there for us.

When I was 14 and Tyler was 16, my mom gave birth to our little brother, Mason. We were so excited! I will do a post on him another snow day, he's a seven year old ball of fire.


Tyler struggled during his HS years, wondering why he couldn't drive to school or why his friends could watch rated R movies. Because although socially he had the competence of a 7/8 grader, he intellectually had the competence of about a 2nd grader. Jason taught us to drive, using his truck and dirt roads nearby and watching Tyler learn is something I will never forget, he felt free. He felt 17.

I think I can speak for my family when I say that Feb 21, 2008 was a night that we will never forget. Tyler's 18th birthday coincided with Senior week that year. He had been the manager for the Tiger basketball team for three years and spent all three years on the bench, which he loved. He had a letterman jacket, tshirts, sweats, loved it. That night his Coach, Mike Nelson and his teammates had something much better in mind for Senior night, which was a game against our High School's biggest rivals, the Rogers Mounties.

Tyler got to suit up and warm up with the team, he was ecstatic, you could see it on his face. Basketball and that team were his whole life {which doctors said he would never be able to do?} Game went on, until there was about three minutes left, the senior section, Tyler's classmates that he had grown with, starting chanting his name, "Tyler! Tyler! Tyler!" Coach Nelson waited until we had possession, called Tyler's name, and put him in, with a last minute statement, "if you get that ball, you better put a shot up!!" a quick smile, he was in. He got the ball, and threw up about four shots, missing all of them. They lost the game. Nobody cared.

I was three weeks shy of 16 and I will never forget the whole gym, even those Mounties, chanting my brother's name, cheering on his dream, I cried then and I am crying now as I write this. I could not be more proud of the person I get to call my big brother.

Tyler went to prom and danced his heart out, without a care in the world at the judgmental looks he probably got. Months later, June 2008, he graduated with a diploma, from Bentonville High School with great pride.

Tyler is now 11 days shy of turning 24.
Can write his name.
Can play sports.
Social competence: 17 years old.
Intellectual competence: 11 years old.
Attends school in a college-like setting.
Balances his own checkbook.
Loves him some Dukes of Hazzard
and anything outdoors.
Broncos, Razorbacks & LA Lakers

Tyler has the biggest heart of anyone you'll ever meet. He has changed every person he's met for the better. He lets everything but Down's syndrome define who he is. As an adult now, with my own family, I can without a doubt say that I am so grateful I grew up in a diverse household. He may carry an extra chromosome, but I believe it's in that chromosome that he lives his life for Jesus, cares for everyone and will forever be the best person I have ever met.

I love you, Ty man.