How A Show About Gorillas Made Me Think About Down Syndrome...

I just finished watching a news story about an eccentric millionaire who has made it his mission to save endangered gorillas by raising them on his own expansive estate located in Europe.  His theory is to conserve and grow dwindling gorilla populations by caring for these animals in a modified habitat and then returning the gorilla families to the wilds of Africa.  I guess with this man’s resources and conviction, his experiment will continue well into the future, but the results of this practice are still a great unknown.


So why has this news story made me reflect upon my life, and what is the connection to Down syndrome?  When my son was born 12 years ago, my wife and I faced the same doubts that many other families must process when confronted with a diagnosis of Down syndrome.  We never felt sorry for our son or our situation.  The real emotion came from the great unknown of the future.  What kind of life will he have?  What happens when we or his siblings are not around to protect him at, say, school?  How will he be educated?  What happens when he becomes a teenager?  What type of job will he be qualified for when older?  Will he be able to live independently at some point?  And the ultimate question, who will take care of him when my wife and I are no longer on this earth?  These types of questions are daunting when you bring home a baby with Down syndrome.  So maybe others can now appreciate that most parents who have taken on the awesome responsibility of raising a child with Down syndrome are not “sad” for the diagnosis, but rather are concerned about the uncertain future of letting that child into the “wilds of society.” 


So that is the connection to the news story I mentioned above.  I believe most parents will give their children, typical or not, every chance to succeed.  That is all we can do.  Children and adults with Down syndrome deserve the same opportunity.  With groups like Stand Up For Downs supporting the mission of improving lives within the Down syndrome community, I am confident that the future for my son and others will be filled with great hope and promise.


Jay Freund

Board Member - Stand Up For Downs