About The Author
Brandi Berkhimer is a mother of three wonderful children. The youngest being born with a little something “extra” that opened a door into a new realm of all that is EXTRAordinary!
Brandi felt a calling when she was fifteen years old that “one day” she would “help a group of young people.” She went over two decades not really under-standing what she was to do with this revelation, but she held it close to her heart and trusted in her Creator.
In 2012 her youngest son was born with Down syndrome, an “extra” 21st chromosome (his family likes to call the sunshine chromie), and her husband became a special forces wounded warrior three months after their son’s birth. Two weeks before her son’s birth she felt like she was strongly being led to put her real estate career aside and “focus on her family.” Little did she know that two weeks later when her son was born she would begin a journey that would lead to the answer of the calling she experienced when she was just fifteen years old.
After a short time as a caregiver to her veteran husband and a permanent caregiver to her son, God used her son, husband, and this season to reveal many amazing things. She developed a higher spiritual understanding, deep attachment, and special place in her heart for people who were born with or later acquired being differently abled. Twenty three years after her initial calling, it was finally revealed that this was the group she has been called to with a special emphasis on and devotion to children born with Down syndrome and their parents.
Brandi became a published author at fifteen year old, and she published again in 2007. Now, Brandi has dedicated her love and talent for writing to creating and expanding the first book series dedicated and devoted to children with Down syndrome and their parents. She created the series to aid in cognitive, physical, and psychological development, and she has included fun and practical speech and physical therapy ideas for parents to help with language and motor skills.
Brandi also serves as a board member for the Gulf Coast Down Syndrome Society with a special passion for new parent outreach and support. Her mission whether through books or outreach is to share the overall message of awareness, acceptance, inclusion, and love based on the scriptures Psalm 139: 13-14 proclaiming we all are “wonderfully made.” Different attributes and abilities make us all beautiful and unique and give us a beautiful and unique way to touch and teach the world of God’s love and handiwork.
“You created my in most being;
You knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful I know that full well."
- Psalm 139:13-14
About Little Sunshine
Meet ASHTON! Ashton is Brandi's youngest son, and he is the inspiration, face, and the main character of the My Little Sunshine Face series!
Ashton was born in June of 2012. Shortly after his birth it was discovered by nurses that Ashton had a handful of the precious newborn features that most children with Down syndrome possess:
" Beautiful almond shapes eyes
And a little button nose,
Single creased hands
And sandal footed toes."
This is where the journey began! A calling was on the path to being answered.. faith was on the way to being strengthened.. fear and uncertainty did surface, but it quickly began to fade and became a fond memory as the starting place where a major blessing began being unwrapped.. and unexplainable happiness and joy was about to be foreshadowed right in front of their very eyes.. by their newborn's first smile, that took over his whole face, just mere hours after being born!
"It was a smile that in just one glance captured our heart and soul and left us happy, hopeful, enlightened, & changed. It was a smile that inspired his nick name My Little Sunshine Face! From the day he was born he was busy at work fulfilling an unexpected mission and gift of inspiring his generation. The amazing part is he is not quite old enough yet to even know what an amazing endeavor he is on and accomplishing! He is simply being all that he knows and was created to be! With his every smile I see doors open right before me, and behind each one stands individual opportunities to change what Down syndrome means to the world. His smiles are contagious and draw people near everywhere we go. They uniquely illustrate God's handiwork and an undeniable truth of his being made sincerely by God! I'm sure that your loved one is going to embark on this same endeavor.
I have so much I want to share of all the smiles, and happiness, and what all I have learned from my son. I want to share how he inspires me and how I am so honored to be his mother. How I am no longer afraid because I know today’s reality of Down syndrome. There is nothing to fear, but everything to celebrate.. everything about my son is absolutely precious including his having Down syndrome. He is absolutely and utterly "wondefully made!"
We went home with the suspicioun from nurses that he had Down syndrome , and it wasnt until three weeks later that test confirmed an extra 21st chromosome. In those three weeks as we waited for results.. Ashton, with little effort at all, profoundly proved he was NOT Down syndrome he WAS Ashton! Two weeks later at five weeks old he started astonishing us with reaching many milestones even before his bigger brother and sister did. He smiled within hours of being born! He rolled over at 5 weeks old! He spoke his first word, sentence, and answered a question at just 13 weeks old! We would love for you to meet our Ashton in the video archives below, and let him show you himself!! If he could tell you something I know he would want you to know.. Don't let anyone limit or define you by a diagnosis!"
My Little Sunshine Face!
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart."
I spoke at 13 weeks old!
I blew raspberries at 6 months
Hi! I'm Ashton! I was born with an extra 21st chromosome. I spoke when I was just 13 weeks old. Several Speech Language Pathologists and speech therapists have confirmed that my first words were "I love you" and "good!" My mom was trying to capture me saying "I love you," and she captured a surprise of me answering her question with "good" for the first time too. You can tell in her voice that I kinda caught her off guard. My mom says my first words were a Devine foreshawowing of my heart and what our lives together would be full of... love and goodness! ...
I had a lot of other "EARLY" firsts as well. This is proof that Down syndrome does NOT limit or define me and prenatal tests, doctors, and the world should not limit me either. Doctors said the biggest challenge would be my lack of muscle tone and being developmentally delayed in most areas.. BUT GUESS WHAT?!...
- I smiled the day I was born.
- I rolled over at just 5 weeks old.
- I said my first word at 13 weeks old.
- I said my first sentence at 13 weeks old.
- I held my own bottle at 13 weeks.
- I became bilingual at 9 months old. English and American Sign Language
- I started a talent resume that I had no idea would build at just 4 weeks old. My picture has been featured in two
magazines, GCDSS calendar, two billboard on the MS Gulf Coast, and KWDS cover of a video.
- I am the main character and face for my mom's series of books based on me .. My Little Sunshine Face :)
My teen aged brother and sister are amazed. They didn't even reach those milestones that fast. I said it's because they are "missing" a chromosome. Just kidding! LOL :) They are amazed at all my love and smiles! I am five years old now, and I have mastered how to make them laugh and smile, and they love it! They still aren't bilingual yet, but I'm teaching them! :)
I am a messenger that we are all "wonderfully made" (- Psalms 139:14) and bloom .. not according to worldly standards, but in His time as He created us to grow and become all that is HIs will and purpose.
Everyone will reach milestones in their own way and time.. here are some of mine! I hope you have a "GOOD" day!
"I LOVE YOU!!" - Love, Ashton
Video Archive -
Get To Know Me More!
I Rolled Over at 5 weeks!
I started scootin' at 8 months
Better at scootin' 9 months
Scootin' Mastered at 9 months
Every morning we always knew when Ashton was awake.. this is what we would hear on the monitor :)
Showing Bouncer Who's Boss 9 months
Clapping at 10 months
Trying to whistle at 10 months
My 1st Competition at 10 months
Pushing Up at 11 months
Crawling at 11 months
I held my bottle at 13 weeks
Pulling Up at 12 months
Sitting Up at 12 months
Self Feeding at 12 months
Decides "No" hurts his feelings at 12 months
Sings E-I-E-I-O at 14 months
Cruisin' furniture at 14-19 months
1st unassisted steps at 19 months
1st four word sentence at 19 months
Taking more steps 20 months
WALKING at 22 months!
1st time asking "why?" at 22 months
Discovers he likes being on video w/mom at 23 months
Ashton says his famous "what" again and gives me the cutest smile bc we're signing his favorite song, Jesus Loves Me.Then he says "Jethus" for Jesus!" Love this little fella and the smile he gave me.
Tonight's song before bed was Climb Up Sunshine Mountain..another of his favorites. About half way through he melts my heart the way he looks up at me and watches me sing. You can see his little lips moving. He knows the words. I can't wait for the day he sings with me. Our selfie singing videos are becoming some of my most precious favorite times with him! Oh my goodness how special he is to me! I will forever cherish these videos we are making.
Ashton & I are having fun making selfie videos signing his ABCs. I so LOVE, LOVE, LOVE his "L M N O P." I had to share! :) I love giggling together when we go back and watch our videos.
Ashton says his famous "what" all the time now because he knows it makes me laugh. I love it!
So funny! Ashton loves watching videos that we make together. This is our first attempt of singing Jesus Loves Me. Keep in mind he is watching himself on the screen while we video. Gotta love the first sound effect he makes at the beginning
"Children are a gift from the Lord. They are a reward from Him."
Ride my Y-bike at 20 months
Sitting in chair at 20 months
Putting things "in" at 20 months
Riding Rody & Saying "wee" at 21 months
Mastered climbing up at 22 months
Stacking blocks at 22 months
Saying & Signing "ball" at 22 months
Says "hi" & wants you to say
it back at 22 months
Says "hi"at 22 months
To Be continued...