Garrett Anderson, 28, learned to drive in high school. His mom, Sharon, first had his capability evaluated at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, and he did his behind-the-wheel instruction through Marianjoy as well.
Here’s more of Sam's interview with Garrett:
When did you learn to drive? “I learned when I was a sophomore in high school. Mom taught me. I love driving, because for example if my parents get old, then I will help drive them.” [He is already helping out at times, when his parents have needed another driver. For the most part, Garrett doesn’t drive on expressways. He says, “People are impatient with me.”]
Garrett attended Eastern New Mexico University Roswell for 15 months, and later graduated with a certificate in early childhood education from Harper College in 2011. Although he went away to school at a tumultuous time for the family, and went through some very difficult times while away from home, he and his mom say he learned valuable lessons in money management, self-care, navigating bus systems and airports, and using discernment in developing friendships.
Would you recommend college to others with Down syndrome? “Yes, I would recommend college to people with Down syndrome because I want people to be included. Sometimes they want to pursue a career. I want them to advocate for themselves because they have a voice and they need to be heard.”
Where are you working now? “I work for two jobs. They are both paying jobs. I work at a movie theater, Regal Cinema in Lake Zurich. I am only the greeter. I take the tickets and tell people which theater they are going to be in, and where it is. Then I say, ‘Thank you and enjoy your show.’
“Second, I have my passion job. I love working with children. I work at Bright Horizons in Deer Park. It’s a daycare. I give teachers their bathroom breaks, and I am a sign language instructor. When I was really young, I couldn’t talk, so I had to use sign language.” [Because he was interested in early childhood education, he and his mom took American Sign Language classes when he was in high school.]
Where are you performing tonight? “I’m in a Jazz Cabaret. I’ll be singing, ‘Ain’t That a Kick In the Head,’ and improvising a dance somewhat. I’m also going to be speaking about the fact that I come from a theatrical family and watched everyone else participate. We love theatre. I wanted to be on stage. Now I usually do two shows a year. Being in theatre has changed, ‘I can’t’ to ‘Let’s try.’
“Out of all the shows, my favorite was Fiddler on the Roof. It was my first time being a lead. I was Tevye.”
Besides theater productions, what do you like to do in your free time? “I hang out with my girlfriend. We go on dates—bowling, miniature golfing, we go out to eat (my favorite thing to do), or go to Great America (also my favorite thing). I love upside-down roller coasters!
“My anniversary with Ela is in May. We’ve been dating almost three years. We are planning for our future. I would like to marry her. She is a perfect match for me.”