Bound by love

link in a chainOctober is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Here’s something new parents likely can’t be aware of when they first get the diagnosis that their child has Down syndrome. 

Many, if not most, describe that time as feeling very, very alone, particularly expectant moms who receive the diagnosis prenatally. The diagnosis can feel isolating, separating off what ordinarily is a time of coming together to celebrate a pregnancy or a new child being born.

But here’s what they likely can’t appreciate:

Every other parent went through a similar experience and that will bind them to more people than they can ever imagine.

This idea of a bond is common to any group of people who go through a shared experience. And the tougher the experience, the stronger the bond. People who live through those experiences share a bond that others do not.

Now, very likely, most people would want to avoid the harrowing experience, the very tough time that resulted in this bond. But, having gone through it, at least this bond emerges.

As a parent of a child with Down syndrome, you will feel this bond when you meet other families. A common icebreaker is to talk about how you received the diagnosis. Among men, particularly, it’s like a discussion of the scars they have, each one trying to one-up the other with an even tougher tale.

These common bonds expand and grow as your child does: you share successes in hitting a milestone through early intervention therapy; you empathize with a parent talking about a school meeting that went poorly; you share with other parents about how each of your children are doing now that they are adults.

In some respects, this is no different than the common shared experience you have simply by being a parent. You also talk about those commonalities as well: first day of school; watching your kid at a baseball game; awkward Thanksgiving dinners.

But, the bond forged from receiving that diagnosis and parenting a child with Down syndrome is special.

It’s just like those other bonds shared in the human experience. Except, this is a bond fewer experience, fewer share. And, as you listen to the new mom talk about how she found out, you will feel this knowing, this common appreciation for part of what she went through, because you had your own journey.

When you get the diagnosis of Down syndrome, you may feel very alone. But, you will find that your experience forged a bond that links you to families throughout your community and this world. Through this bond, you are not alone. You have a bond stronger than you ever could have imagined with people you have never met.


  1. I struck by how diverse my friendship group is now. I am more open to people with different thoughts and opinions now and am more tolerant of views I don’t necessarily agree with because we have this other bond…the shared experience.

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