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Tv Review : Down's Syndrome Story On Abc Special

September 23, 1987|LYNNE HEFFLEY

The latest topic to be taken up by the issue-oriented "ABC Afterschool Special" is Down's Syndrome. "The Kid Who Wouldn't Quit/The Brad Silverman Story," airing at 3 p.m. today (Channels 7, 3, 10 and 42), tells the real-life story of a Down's Syndrome boy who defied the odds and is now attending regular classes at Pasadena City College.

His parents were advised to institutionalize him when he was born; Brad's physical and mental handicaps were judged insurmountable. But Harold and Billie Silverman (Shelley Berman and Marion Ross) took the baby home, fiercely determined to give him the most normal life possible.

Challenge became a way of life for Brad. A scrapper, assertive and as determined as his remarkable parents, he suffered many hurts at the hands of his peers, but struggled through regular courses to graduate with his class.

It's difficult to be unmoved by his success, but rather than letting viewers see Brad's own efforts, this series of emotional moments, written and directed by Joanna Lee, becomes a chronicle of parental triumphs over administrative obstacles, keeping Brad at a distance.

Brad the stereotype is replaced with Brad the success symbol. (K. C. Martel plays the teen-age Brad; Carl Stephen is Brad from 10 to 13. David Feit, who has Down's Syndrome himself, is Brad at 5.)

Only at the end, when the real Brad addresses the audience, does one see the person behind the symbol. Speaking slowly, with obvious concentration, he says, "It's a good thing to have a dream, as long as you're willing to work to make it come true."

And then, he smiles. The smile says it all.

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