Dad Starts Each Day Drawing Comic of Daughter With Down Syndrome

Jessica Wills may have Down syndrome, but she’s still “just Jessica.”

The 15-year-old from Stratford, Connecticut, is the inspiration behind her father’s ongoing comic, called “Just Jessica.”


Fred Wills, a registered nurse, would draw little cartoons for all of his five children, but for Jessica, his youngest, he tries to do it every day. He draws Jessica’s daily lessons and adventures for material, using an app to help create the images below.

“Jessica’s big thing was that she wanted to be just Jessica… We used to talk a lot about her special needs and she would say, ‘I am just like everybody else,'” Wills told The Mighty. “Everybody just wants to be treated like everyone else. That’s the message behind ‘Just Jessica.'”


Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 12.09.32 PM

Each night he creates a new one, and in the morning he posts them to the “Just Jessica” Facebook page before printing one and taping it to the microwave for Jessica to find before breakfast.



The subject matter ranges from school work and sports to conversations Jessica has had with her mother and father. The comic always features the family’s sassy cats, Megatron and Fox.

“The themes are all about being independent and growing up dealing with special needs,” Wills told The Mighty. “We focus on Down syndrome because that’s what we know best, but the challenges apply to all special needs.”


Jessica with her father, Fred Wills

“I like it when my father thinks of me,” Jessica told The Mighty, before asking if there was a way for the band One Direction to see her cartoon.

“That’d be fun for them to see it. I like Harry Styles a lot,” she explained. “I like his crazy hair.”


“In so many ways Jessica thinks, feels and acts like a regular, old fashioned, teenager,” Wills told The Mighty in an email. “The arguments, fears, loves and pains, the acting up and acting out, the body changes, the anxiety, the humor, the full gambit of emotions and trials we all go through are hers. Through it all, she dances gracefully along the thin line of ‘special needs’ and what many refer to as ‘normal’… More than anything we hope that ‘Just Jessica’ will make you laugh and feel good like when you get a hug.”

Visit the “Just Jessica” Facebook page to see more of the daily cartoons.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Down Syndrome

In 5 Words, My Son With Autism Reminded Me I’m Doing Enough

As a single parent of an autistic child, I am constantly hearing, “I don’t know how you do it.” Honestly, it’s just what I know. In the beginning, I’d see other families at the state autism center, occupational therapy and the special needs preschool and be in awe of both parents. I envied them since one [...]

When the Doctor Gave My Unborn Baby a Diagnosis I Couldn’t Believe

What does that mean? That was my response to the doctor who just delivered some of the most confusing, unexpected news I have ever received on July 6, 2015. “Your baby tested positive for trisomy 21, which means you have a 99.9 percent chance of having a baby with Down syndrome.” Surely this cannot be [...]

To the Parent at School Who Doesn’t Understand My Child’s Autism

Starting the new school year has been tricky for my son, C, and me. The move to a bigger class, a new classroom and a new teacher has been hard. It’s hard to let him go, knowing I’m not there to protect him from everything. I worry so much about him being judged by others. How much do [...]

To the Waiter Who Made Me Feel Ashamed of My Feeding Tube

More than a year ago, I had a permanent feeding tube placed into my stomach and intestines. I rely on it to give me nutrition that everybody else gets from eating food. The only difference is my nutrition is a special kind of formula, instead of fruits and veggies and anything else you eat by [...]