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A mystery illness stole their kids’ personalities. These moms fought for answers

Before Sara Smythe began to disappear, she was thriving.

The youngest of four sisters, Sara was born with Down syndrome and lived the life of an active teen. At 13, the Toledo student was heading to middle school and loved soccer and swim practice, took dance and karate classes, and was a Girl Scout.

But in 2011, everything changed in a matter of weeks. Sara morphed from a sociable teen to a person who stopped talking and engaging with other people, and, at her worst, had full-blown catatonia.

Sara’s doctors were at a loss, but her mother, Eileen Quinn, wasn’t giving up. She embarked on what would become a 13-year quest, harnessing the power of a mother’s love to push the scientific community to pay attention to the mysterious regressions that some young people with Down syndrome were experiencing.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: Washington Post, 12 May 2024


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