October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, a time to come together to celebrate and advocate for individuals with Down syndrome.
In this exclusive interview, we have the privilege of sharing an honest conversation with Tailynn (@tailynnvictoria) whose life was touched by Down syndrome when her son, Aspen, was born. Together, we explore common misconceptions surrounding Down syndrome, her journey from diagnosis to acceptance, and how her perspective on parenting has evolved. Most importantly, we discuss how we can all work together to promote a more inclusive and accepting society for individuals with Down syndrome.
Join us as we delve into her story.
Could you share some common misconceptions surrounding Down syndrome?
Some common misconceptions surrounding Down syndrome are that only older mothers have children with Down syndrome. Many of the mothers in our lucky few community were in their 20’s when they had their babes & I was 30 when I had Aspen.
Another misconception is that your child won’t be able to do SO MANY things. That got me when I was pregnant. I was given this negative list of things my baby “most likely” wouldn’t be able to do and it tore me apart. Things like- walk, talk, eat by themselves, go to school, get a job, live on their own- obviously each child’s needs are different but that’s with any child. Aspen crawled, he walks, he runs sooo super fast! He’s in preschool now and he does early intervention services to help him learn how to talk & just be his best self.
How did you and your family first learn about your child's diagnosis, and how did you feel at that moment?
I went in for an ultrasound appointment to find out the gender with my best friend (we were planning a fun gender reveal!) and the ultrasound doctor found “soft markers” for Down syndrome. After that we did some tests & I got a phone call on my way to work that Aspen would have Down syndrome. I went through every possible emotion I think. I cried. I grieved. I mourned for my baby the life I thought he would have & was so heart broken thinking of all the things he would miss out on in life. It took me some time to process, but once I started looking at REAL stories of families with a loved one with Down syndrome- real mothers- I finally saw that it was going to be okay.
I followed two lucky few mamas on Instagram and it seriously helped me so much being able to see their beautiful, smiling children with DS. That’s how I told my oldest, Dayton, that his baby brother would have Down syndrome too. Showed him some photos & videos of extra chromie kiddos and he was so excited. He helped me through a lot of my that journey.
How has having a child with Down syndrome changed your perspective on parenting?
Having a child with Down syndrome has changed me as a mother - and as a person- so much. I appreciate the little things because I know sometimes they take so much hard work! Walking took us awhile and now I just love to watch Aspen walk. I could watch him walk all day & it just instantly puts a smile on my face because I know much work he put into it.
I feel like I’m more patient as a mother now, more outgoing definitely, more adventurous, just trying to make all the memories with my boys and give them the best childhood I possible can.
Can you tell us about one of the most memorable moments you've experienced with Aspen?
One of my favorite memories with Aspen is when NDSS put his photo on the Jumbotron in Times Square, New York. He and others with Down syndrome were shared (they do it every September and pick new faces each time!) for all of Times Square to see and it was just amazing. We made the trip across the country (we live in Idaho) and seeing Aspen’s bright, beautiful smile on the big screen just made my mama heart so so proud.
I’m so grateful for the opportunities for DS awareness, acceptance, inclusion and the celebrating of differences we get to be apart of. It has been such a blessing and never ceases to amaze me. The kindness we have been shown has been so special to me.
How can we all work together to promote a more inclusive and accepting society for individuals with Down syndrome?
Just share them.
Share the beautiful smiles, the stories, the families. That was one thing I noticed when I was pregnant with Aspen and why I try to promote inclusion so much now, was how hidden individuals with Down syndrome seemed. I didn’t see them in ads, in the media, and it made me so sad. This false narrative was being pushed to me and once I was able to truly see these individuals as just that, individuals, it just changed my whole perspective. It’s not all doom & gloom & scary- it’s beautiful, and light, and joy and happiness.
I think showing kids that inclusion is important- not segregation- will help so so much too. Let them ask questions and answer them. Teach them. It’s okay to be curious as long as it comes from a place of kindness. I am always willing to answer questions & share. And I know most families in the DS community are too 💙💛