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.'”
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.”
“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.