Raising Sophie

In these radio pieces and blogs, Amy Silverman, managing editor at Phoenix New Times, shares stories about her daughter, Sophie, who has Down syndrome.

Radio Stories

The following radio pieces originally aired on Phoenix’s KJZZ Radio, 91.5 FM, a National Public Radio member station.

Sophie with her mother, Amy Silverman.

Thoughts on Overalls
April 29, 2005 — Most of us give a lot of thought to what our kids wear. Silverman considers a special set of circumstances when it comes to her daughter Sophie’s clothes and refuses to put her daughter in overalls.

Good Mom – Bad Mom
Oct. 19, 2005 –Silverman considers her actions as a mother – letting her children eat ice cream for dinner, letting her kids watch too much TV and ignoring the blood test that showed an increase level for Down syndrome. She wonders if her actions will affect her older daughter, Annabelle.

ASU’s Little Co-Ed
May 19, 2006 – Sophie is learning to walk with the assistance of a walker, and every day presents new obstacles. Silverman wonders if her daughter will be able to walk to school by herself.

Sophie’s Choice?
May 11, 2007 –Silverman talks about the change in seasons, the addition of a new family member and what her 4-year old daughter, Sophie, really wants but may never get: driving, getting married and having a baby of her own.

The Best Halloween…ever
Oct. 31, 2007 – It’s a time of Halloween trials, with Sophie’s open heart surgery set in early November – scheduled so that Sophie can still go Trick-or-Treating.

Sophie’s First Day of School
Aug. 1, 2008 – Silverman is sending Sophie off to kindergarten with the rest of the kids, which is hard enough for any mom. But Sophie’s not like the rest of the kids. She has Down’s syndrome.

Sophie’s Birthday
May 16, 2009 – As she plans a birthday party for Sophie, Silverman worries that her daughter won’t be included in classmates’ birthday parties. Then she discovers that Sophie is un-inviting classmates to her party.

Sophie’s “B”
Feb. 20, 2011 – Sophie has a best friend, whose name is Sarah. But Sarah and Sophie may be separated next year because of the way special education is funded in the school district.

That’s my daughter in the water…
July 24, 2011 – After years of swimming lessons and special classes, Sophie finally gets her swimming medal.

The following piece aired on “This American Life,” a weekly public radio show produced by Chicago Public Radio, distributed by Public Radio International and featured on many NPR stations.

Social Engineering
June 2008 – Silverman discusses a conundrum: Sophie needs to qualify as “mentally retarded” to get state services, but she is better off in public school if she does not test low.

Some Things You Can’t Change
June 29, 2012 – Silverman debates how to handle Sophie’s desire to be taller– one wish representing many impossible wishes.

Special Olympics Creates Choices
March 21, 2013 – Sophie participates in cheerleading in the Special Olympics, much to her mother’s chagrin over her own memories of the sport.

Girl in a Party Hat Blog

Silverman began blogging on Sophie’s fifth birthday as a way to catalog her daughter’s kindergarten year. Three years later, she is still blogging at girlinapartyhat.com. Selected blogs appear below.

2008

2009

2010

2011

About Amy Silverman

Sophie with her mother, Amy Silverman.

Amy Silverman is a writer, editor and teacher. She is managing editor at Phoenix New Times, the local alternative newsweekly paper where she’s worked for 18 years. She has won several national awards and has twice been named Journalist of the Year by the Arizona Press Club.

That’s her day job. Her other professional passions include memoir writing and teaching. As a regular commentator for KJZZ, the local National Public Radio affiliate, Silverman shares stories about her life, particularly her family.

Silverman’s work has appeared on the radio show “This American Life” and in publications such as The Washington Post, the New York Times, Travel + Leisure, salon.com, George, Playboy and Fit Pregnancy.

She co-wrote and co-produced a play, “Pearls: Motherhood Unstrung,” which included work by many of the students of the workshop “Mothers Who Write,” which Silverman has co-taught with Deborah Sussman since 2002; the class is offered through the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. In addition, she has worked with young writers at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and in the YMCA’s “Writer’s Voice” program.
A Phoenix native, Silverman has a bachelor’s degree. in American Studies from Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of Journalism in New York City.

She blogs at Girl In a Party Hat.