The PREP Program - Education and Resources for Individuals with DS and their families
Women of Vision - Barbara Tien
When Barbara Tien
took a career aptitude test more than 30 years ago, she
scored high as a nun or a speech language pathologist.
chose the latter.
It was a relatively new area of study at the time, and Tien
had faith she
had found her
"I love working with kids . . . and I truly take great joy in giving parents great joy because there's nothing like hearing a child speak clearly or speak their first words," she
In 1987, Tien was working as a speech therapist when she received a unique request.
"A parent phoned me when I had just started my private practice and said she
could not get services for her
had Down syndrome, would I help . . . and, of course, I did the classic, 'Well, I've never really worked with these kids.
Are you sure you want me?' "
went on to work with that young man and many other children with Down syndrome, one of the most commonly occurring genetic birth defects.
Inspired by her students, and the families who wanted to see their children reach their full potential, Tien created The PREP Program.
The initials stand for Pride, Respect, Empowerment, Progress.
The organization offers educational and support programs to better prepare Down syndrome children for life.
Families can access services at no cost.
"My generation . . . we didn't see those kids," Tien
"They went on the special ed buses across town and we never even thought their world could collide with our world."
That attitude is changing, and Tien
is proud that PREP
is playing in a role.
"The new generation of young people now has grown up with people with disabilities in their midst and it's absolutely wonderful . . . they don't see it as a big deal," she
has a strong business sense and has used that to keep PREP
going for two decades.
While looking back at all that PREP
has accomplished, Tien
says there is still much to do, and in her
day-to-day work, she
often thinks of the family who first inspired her
"The biggest thing that family taught me is to give them a normal life.
It's not right to segregate these children," she