Not so long ago, scientists thought people with Down syndrome couldn’t read or write.
Ohrenkuss is a magazine.
Made in Bonn for almost 20 years now.
Adults with Down syndrome write and dictate the texts for the magazine.
They have written about many things already.
About songs getting stuck in your head - an earworm and about Music, about the Good and the Bad, about the Miraculous, about Love and about the Creation of the World.
Here they are writing about writing.
And about what it means to them to be writing for Ohrenkuss.
Angela Fritzen is an Ohrenkuss founding member.
She summarises concisely:
„Writing is freedom.“
She is convinced: People with Down syndrome can be writers, too:
„These writers can write very fast relatively very good even.
They are professionals.
They earn money.
When you can write very fast then we are also writers and that is a real lot of fun for us together.
From colleagues, they are mixed with men and women - but we are having Down syndrome.
I am very proud that we write well.
To write about writing is to have fun.
Writing is my favorite hobby.
I am happy."
But what really defines a professional writer?
Is it only about someone’s typing speed?
Marc Lohmann believes that it is also about the thoughts in the head.
„I write by hand or I can write without hand, also writing down on the computer.
And I can read and write other texts.
I can only work with the right, just not with the left.
Because then I get a cramp.
I only do writing with using the right palm.
Writing when I would set-up my head in the computer, concentration inside it I can practice.
That is very important to also keep working with the brain in the head. To work the whole head is also with the forehead, both together also can work."
Anna-Maria Schomburg believes: It's not just about the writing.
Real authors are also being printed.
„An author is somebody who's interested in writing and his writing to get out into the open to publicise.
His interests are to write books and texts that the other people like to read.
I like to write and compose poems, that I can say something about and I feel very good and very well as an author of poems!
Many authors like to write and for sure have a good feeling when others enjoy reading their book and writing."
Having his work printed is also a dream of her colleague Martin Weser.
He sends his handwritten texts into the Ohrenkuss office.
„Because that's fun for me, the writing.
The writing means for me.
It means all over the world also the writing.
The life means also a lot of people for the writing.
They write many books for example Astrid Lindgren and also Joannne K. Rowling, they are authors.
And also Enid Blyton and Erich Kästner, they are authors.
We write our books ourselves.
Then we become authors and earn money for that.
One day I also want to become an author, that is for me the feeling.
I have never written books, but again and again I wanted always to do it.
For that you have to think a lot, for the book.
I would like so very much to write books, I also want to have other space for the books getting printed.
I have space enough, my room.
Then I'll put books on my couch.
One day I also want to become an author!
I want to have office for my place, then I write the books.
I want the books are done, then I will sell them around the whole world.
Here I have the space for that for me all alone so I can never be disturbed."
Maria Trojer thinks being a poet is a nice job.
She has written a poem about this:
Poet is a nice job.
That I would like to be.
And to dream on during the day
to become famous.
Further study - good poetry.
Poets life - feeling good.
All people will applaud.
Day and night, that's when I write.
To make the good impression.
All will praise me.
Nora Fiedler knows:
„I am a person, because I have many talents: with writing.“
Michaela Koenig takes it even further.
Writing is her life:
„Writing is my whole life, writing feels my whole life’s purpose.
Writing means simply everything to me, writing has for me become my main profession.
Because without writing I don't exist."
Julian Göpel also defines himself by writing:
„We are artist and editors, writers.“
So, there are many professional writers in the Ohrenkuss editorial office.
But how did it start?
How did the authors learn to read and write?
For Carina Kühne it went like this:
„In 1992 I was enrolled in a regular school and just learned to write the normal way with my school mates.
For me it is important that I can write.
Many think, that people with Down syndrome can't read and write because of their disability."
Martin Weser is still grateful to the man who taught him how to write.
„I learned long time ago my teacher taught me how to write. I couldn't recognise letters when I still had little eyes.
I have taught myself writing.
I learned something new, writing!
I think a lot of my teacher, that taught me how to write."
Carina Kühne thinks that the alphabet is a very practical invention:
„In the past they wrote for example with Egyptian hieroglyphs old Germanic runes and Babylonian cuneiform writing.
The alphabet is made up of 26 letters.
You can write words, sentences, letters, messages, articles, books and scripts out of that.
I prefer letters, more practical and easier.
We can better master them, because we are used to writing like that.
Prohibition signs, warning signs, mandatory signs, traffic and information signs are however very important because they are clear and can be understood by everybody.
Emoticons are also characters that can be used in an SMS or email.“
Paul Spitzeck also keeps things pragmatic:
„Writing is important: Yes.
If writing isn't possible - no reading books, no blueprint making.
That is important, too.
You need an assembly diagram for the tent.
If you can't write, don't know, which jam in the jar and if it's still good. “
When you hold a printed Ohrenkuss in your hand, how does that feel?
Björn Langenfeld describes it:
„My feeling: That is printed.
Text is very beautiful.
Now my name.
My parents enjoy the magazine, my name - proud.
My mother she is happy I wrote the text, then comes proud and she watched television, my parents, saw Ohrenkuss, people on the phone said, for me writing, beautiful writing, much writing, was fun.
No breaks, keep writing, looking forward to it, I write. I very much like to work.“
His colleague Marc Lohmann also knows these feelings.
„An Ohrenkuss is very valuable.
I like it to write on my name in the text I wrote down and to read that in the magazine written.
I like to write for Ohrenkuss about the topic writing, what we want about the texts to write and dictate, because we people with Down syndrome work-colleagues stick together to the end, non-stop.
And I have to add, a short break in a minute, not longer, because we finally have to get going and Ohrenkuss continues much success and don't give-up and keep writing till the whole Ohrenkuss magazine is filled with the texts, with the magazine’s photos and the pictures that we’ve seen, dictated by www.ohrenkuss.de.“
Daniel Rauers thinks firstly of the readers.
„When people read the Ohrenkuss - then they are happy.“
Michael Häger thinks:
„Treasure is an Ohrenkuss.“
Many Ohrenkuss authors don't just write for the magazine.
They really are prolific writers.
Carina Kühne for example:
„I can write my experiences, memories and thoughts in the diary or in my computer.
I also have a blog.
I like to write articles and enjoy when they are published. “
Romy Reißenweber wishes for a pen-pal.
She writes in an email:
„It is very important, because you can communicate things with others. Letters from A-Z. A book writer.
Then many people know what I think.
If Jesus was still around I would have liked to meet him and to write him letters.“
Angela Fritzen summarises in a list what she thinks is important about writing:
„Writing is fun.
Writing with the computer.
Writing is learning a lot.
Writing is very important and being concentrated while you do it and pay attention, listen well.
What else is important to write? Simply everything.
We are writing a lot.
That is from colleagues yet with people having Down syndrome."
So at Ohrenkuss it is not just about writing, but also about learning new things, researching.
Getting to know something new.
Expanding one's own knowledge.
Johanna von Schönfeld thinks:
„That is clearly fascinating!“
Angela Fritzen writes:
„Thinking makes you smart.
Thinking can do a lot.
What we’re thinking is the writing.
But the thinking remains in the head.
It all must get out, what we are thinking to ourselves.
We’re thinking about it, that we at Ohrenkuss contemplate while we write.
Thinking makes you smart.“
This is how Ohrenküsse (ear kisses) are made.
Because you hear and see so may things, everyday.
It goes in one ear and out the other.
But what's important stays in your head.
And that is an Ohrenkuss.