Big Sister’s Drawings Help Others See the Beauty in Down Syndrome


When Hayley Goleniowska’s youngest daughter, Natty, was diagnosed with Down syndrome, Goleniowska and her husband, Bob, thought first of their oldest daughter, Mia. How would they explain Natty’s delays to a 2-year-old? They started searching for sibling support books, but mostly came up short. So, they figured they would just write their own.

The couple had no idea what form the book would take — until they began finding drawings and notes Mia, then 7, had been leaving around the house in Cornwall, England. One read, “I love you Natty and you are the best sister in the world and so precious to me. You are so important to me and if you weren’t in this world my life wouldn’t be the same.” They began collecting the notes and drawings. This, they thought, would be their book. They’d call it, “I Love You, Natty.”

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Now, three years later, “I Love You, Natty” is available to order online. It combines Mia’s drawings and notes with family photos, her parents’ insight and her answers to questions her mother would ask her (i.e. How did you feel when Natty went in for heart surgery?).

“When Natty was born I worried a lot about the impact on Mia, but I was wrong. Mia is the most thoughtful, sensitive and accepting 10-year-old I know, with an enormous sense of right and wrong,” Hayley Goleniowska told The Mighty in an email. “She is who she is in part because of her sister, not in spite of her.”

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Goleniowska, who also runs the popular blog, “Downs Side Up,” hopes that everyone who reads this book will learn that siblings will not be badly affected by a brother or sister with Down syndrome.

“Everything will be OK. That there will be challenges and hurdles and worries but plenty of love and laughter,” Goleniowska told The Mighty. “Life will carry on much as it did before, only a little bit better.”

Go here to purchase a copy of “I Love You Natty: A Sibling’s Introduction to Down’s Syndrome.”

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