** I am excited to share this post today, written by my husband, Rob! Because when you’re talking about Dads and Down syndrome… who better else to talk about it than a real dad! I’m so proud of him. **
As most of Carrie’s reader’s know our almost two-year old ‘baby’ Molly was born with Down syndrome. So a few weeks ago, I attended the first D.A.D.S National organization meeting, sponsored by the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville. I was skeptical at first but found out quickly I was in a good place. Carrie told me she wanted to write this article, but I felt like it was my duty to help spread this word myself.
The acronym D.A.D.S. stands for Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome. And their mission statement is :
“To assist and support, through fellowship and action, the fathers and families of individuals with Down Syndrome.”
Now, I am not going to list all of their goals and what they do, you can read about all that on the D.A.D.S National site, I would rather give you my personal thoughts of the meeting.
At first was a bunch of guys making small talk and then began the start of why we were there. Joe Meares, the founder of D.A.D.S began to speak about all of the questions, emotions, thoughts and dreams for our children with Down syndrome that I have had a million times. If you are a father of a child with special needs, you know exactly what I am saying.
Joe explained how he went from a Dad ‘against’ Down syndrome to a Dad ‘appreciating’ Down syndrome, something that I have gone through even though I had never heard it put into those words. I was angry when I first heard Molly’s diagnosis and didn’t like what I heard, but after time and tears and growing together as a family, I have embraced all that Molly is and I will do everything I can to ensure her happiness and quality of life.
Each of the dads in attendance gave a brief introduction of who they were and shared about their child with Down syndrome. I heard stories that ran a range of emotions. Yes, I teared up a few times, but it made me feel good to hear others challenges and successes and all that each of us have in common.
Things I Learned from D.A.D.S –
- There are governmental type issues that any special needs parent needs to be aware of that I was somewhat oblivious to (ADA, etc…)
- This group is for guys only and deals with issues that Dads face in raising a child with Down syndrome, some that we may not want to discuss with the wife, sorry ladies…
- The attitude of the father becomes the attitude of the family.
If you know a father who has a child with Down syndrome, share this with them and encourage them to attend an event in your area. It’s not a gathering of guys to sit around and drink, we all have friends for that already, it’s a gathering of DADS with children who have Down syndrome to learn about what we can do as men to support those in our community with Down syndrome.
Visit www.DADSNational.org to learn how you can get involved in your community.