Our Down Syndrome Story
As Martha gave her final push and I eased the precious head out of the birth canal, out popped a pudgy little hand with a curved little finger. In a flash, I realized that we were parents of a baby with Down syndrome. The baby we expected was not the baby we got.
As we parented Stephen, we realized that a child with special needs exacts from us a special kind of parenting. For special-needs children, the principle of mutual giving really shines. As Stephen developed special skills, we developed special skills. He brought out the best in us.
Peek Into Our World With Stephen
One of my favorite parts of having Stephen in our family is that he is, hands down, everyone’s favorite sibling. From when they were all younger (see the photo where he is between his older brother, Matt, and his youngest sister, Lauren) to now when he is a handsome young man of 31, Stephen connects with each of his sibs in an uncanny way. With Stephen, there are flashes of color from day to day that one would certainly never anticipate.
Early on we realized that keeping Stephen lean and active were the two best gifts we could give him. He has been an eager athlete in several sports: baseball, tag football, basketball, and golf. His nickname on the golf course is “Harry Putter” (he is very good at putting!). He is the top home run hitter on his Challengers baseball team – people watching him exclaim how professional his swing looks. He is good at shooting hoops, but not so much at all that running up and down the court when the ball changes hands.
One of Bill’s favorite aspects of Stephen’s personality is his superior stress management strategy. When he senses Bill getting irritated with stop-and-go driving in busy Southern California traffic, Stephen puts his hand on his dad’s shoulder and says, “It’s OK, Dad” and his body language reflects “Cool it, Dad, don’t worry/be happy!”
For more information on Down syndrome, visit our website.
Dr. Sears, or Dr. Bill as his “little patients” call him, has been advising busy parents on how to raise healthier families for over 40 years. He received his medical training at Harvard Medical School’s Children’s Hospital in Boston and The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, the world’s largest children’s hospital, where he was associate ward chief of the newborn intensive care unit before serving as the chief of pediatrics at Toronto Western Hospital, a teaching hospital of the University of Toronto. He has served as a professor of pediatrics at the University of Toronto, University of South Carolina, University of Southern California School of Medicine, and University of California: Irvine. As a father of 8 children, he coached Little League sports for 20 years, and together with his wife Martha has written more than 40 best-selling books and countless articles on nutrition, parenting, and healthy aging. He serves as a health consultant for magazines, TV, radio and other media, and his AskDrSears.com website is one of the most popular health and parenting sites. Dr. Sears has appeared on over 100 television programs, including 20/20, Good Morning America, Oprah, Today, The View, and Dr. Phil, and was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine in May 2012. He is noted for his science-made-simple-and-fun approach to family health.