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Why I Hope You'll Ask Questions About My Son With Down Syndrome

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There have been many posts circulating on social media recently that ask people “not” to do things: Do not ask me this, do not say this, do not assume this, etc. concerning certain disabilities, diseases, and lifestyle choices. While I appreciate them and admire their courage for posting their feelings, I don’t feel they speak for me. I believe there is another way to meet criticism, curiosity and ignorance: openness. I feel that telling people what they can’t do cuts off a potential dialogue; an opportunity for someone to learn more about a person and their story.

I believe everyone has a story to share that can change the minds and hearts of the people who hear it. People who are affected by disabilities or diseases can change others’ perceptions or preconceived notions by telling their stories. Stories could lead to a more knowledgeable, caring and giving society.

My son, Owen, is a 2-year-old warrior. His entrance into this world two months early culminated in a broken arm and leg. At 1 day old, after having his first meal, his stomach burst and required a four-and-a-half-hour emergency surgery. But this little warrior, starting out at 2 pounds 15 ounces, fought bravely and fiercely and came home to us from the NICU the day after his 1-month birthday weighing in at 4 pounds. And I want to tell you his story. I want to honor him and share him with you. So please ask me questions.

Ask me what it is like to have a child with Down syndrome. Ask me if I knew while I was pregnant. Ask me what he is like, what he can accomplish and what he can give. I will answer you openly and honestly, because before I had Owen I only knew “what I knew” about Down syndrome, which was very little. Now I know so much more, and I want to share. I want my son to be treated with love and compassion. To my knowledge, communication and openness is the only way for that to happen.

I want you to feel comfortable with his syndrome – for all of your questions to be answered so you can see him as the little warrior he is, as the happy, flirty little boy with an infectious smile. So please ask me questions. Every parent loves to talk about their child, and I’m no exception. I love my story.

Originally published: July 19, 2016
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