Brady Murray
May 20, 2024

7 Reasons Why a Down Syndrome Diagnosis is Good News

Kimberly DowDell is a popular social media influencer and mom who shares the heartwarming and joyous moments of raising a child with Down syndrome. Kimberly has been married to her high school sweetheart for 24 years and is the proud mother of four children, including her son Jack, who was born with Down syndrome. With 17 years of experience teaching group fitness classes, Kimberly loves the connections she makes with others. Now, through social media, she continues to connect with people around the world as she openly shares her family's journey with Down syndrome. 

I recently had the privilege of hearing Kimberly share her perspective on the podcast. Her inspiring words provided many reasons why receiving a Down syndrome diagnosis for your child can actually be very positive news. 

Here are 7 key reasons Kimberly highlighted why Down syndrome is actually good news:


1. A Down syndrome diagnosis can bring your family closer together.


When Kimberly's son Jack was born, he had to spend nearly two months in the hospital due to medical complications. This was an extremely challenging time that separated their family - Kimberly stayed with Jack at the hospital in Salt Lake City, her husband had to be away finishing up training for a new job in Chicago, and their other kids stayed with their grandparents back home. 

As difficult as this period was, Kimberly feels it actually brought their family together in a profound new way, especially the siblings' bond with their new baby brother. When Jack finally came home, the other kids went into full protective mode. They were overjoyed to have him there, regardless of his Down syndrome diagnosis. Kimberly has watched her children's connection with Jack grow deeper ever since. The love and excitement they show whenever returning home from college to reunite with him is enough to melt anyone's heart.


2. Individuals with Down syndrome have a special ability to openly express pure love. 


One of Jack's superpowers is his unbridled affection for his loved ones. Videos of him excitedly greeting his siblings have gone viral because people around the world connect with the pure excitement and love he expresses. Kimberly says she often hears from followers who wish they had someone like Jack to give them one of his famous hugs.  

She explains, "I didn't realize it at the time, but there are just a lot of people who are missing that kind of relationship in their lives. I feel like everyone feels really connected to Jack. I think that they watch him, and they feel like they're his best friend, too. And that they're the recipient on the other end of that hug."

This unconditional love that many individuals with Down syndrome so freely give is an incredible gift to all who know them. The world could use a lot more Jack hugs.


3. People with Down syndrome find joy in the simple things and maintain an eternally positive outlook. 


Jack has developed his own uplifting catchphrase: "Good news!" He spontaneously started preceding happy reports to his mom with this phrase. "Mom, good news, I saw a cat outside!" "Mom, good news, I heard a song I like on my iPad!" For Jack, even little everyday things are causes for joy and celebration.

As Kimberly describes it, "This is going to go along really well with what our message is and what we want to share with the world. Considering what Down syndrome means to us, it is good news. And how appropriate is that Jack calls everything good news when that's what we're trying to spread?"

Jack's glass-is-always-half-full attitude is a beautiful example for all of us. Despite life's challenges, there is always good to be found if we choose to see it. Jack reminds us that happiness is a choice.


4. A child with Down syndrome can break you out of overprotective mode and teach you to let go. 


Kimberly admits that it took her years to overcome the urge to shelter Jack from potential rejection or challenges, often to his detriment. She limited his opportunities to freely interact with neurotypical peers out of fear others would see him as a burden. In hindsight, Kimberly realizes this mindset was based on her own insecurities, not Jack's.

She's learned that while inclusion benefits Jack greatly, his peers often learn and grow even more from their experiences with him. They admire his zest for life and how he puts himself out there without fear of judgment. Kimberly is learning to push past her own hangups and let Jack dive into age-appropriate social situations, like his first school dance.

Her wise words to other parents: "I am the one who often holds him back over my own fears, not his. And I, that's something that I keep learning over and over again myself... We're human. And I think those are natural human emotions... Then we can come to a place of peace and understanding with one another."


5. People with Down syndrome have the same hopes and dreams as everyone else.


Just like his siblings, Jack dreams of experiencing all that life has to offer, including falling in love, going on dates, and getting married someday. Kimberly confesses this was one of her early worries when Jack was born - would he get to have a fulfilling romantic relationship one day? 

She's since realized that despite his Down syndrome diagnosis, Jack very much desires the same human connection and closeness that we all do. He teases his siblings about kissing their girlfriends/boyfriends and gets giddy imagining himself in their shoes. Some of Jack's crushes have included girls at school and even one of his teachers!

Kimberly reflects that Jack has already far surpassed many limits she mistakenly placed on him at birth. She's realized the best approach is to let him take the lead in exploring what he wants out of life. His dreams are as valid and achievable as anyone else's.


6. Raising a child with Down syndrome can make you appreciate and celebrate all their milestones, big and small.


From overcoming health scares to learning to ride a bike, reaching milestones carries extra significance for many families in the Down syndrome community. When Jack was an infant, he had a challenging start that included extended hospitalizations and surgery. Seeing another young man with Down syndrome living life to the fullest gave Kimberly and her husband so much hope during that difficult time. 

Years later, she wants to pay that optimism forward. Through social media, Kimberly aims to show others a realistic glimpse of day-to-day life with Jack - the joys, the humor, the accomplishments. Just like that role model was for her family, she strives to be a source of inspiration and encouragement for others on a similar path.


7. People with Down syndrome enrich our communities and teach us to be better humans.


If given the chance, individuals with Down syndrome have so much light and wisdom to share with the world. Kimberly says folks often tell her they need to love more like Jack and express their feelings openly the way he does. His excitement for life is contagious. Despite the medical and developmental challenges that can come with Down syndrome, the overwhelming good far outweighs any difficulties in Kimberly's experience. 

She explains, "I want them to open up their eyes, change their perspective, and make way for these people into their hearts and into their lives because there's so much that we have to learn from them. And when we do, the joy that we're able to experience from having them in our lives is indescribable."


How to Embrace the "Good News" of Down Syndrome


Kimberly's perspective is such an inspiring testament to the unexpected joys of parenting a child with Down syndrome. Her journey with Jack illustrates that while a Down syndrome diagnosis may not be what parents initially envision, it can open the door to a wonderful new reality beyond their wildest dreams. 

The Down syndrome community is full of amazing individuals like Jack who are ready to show us how to find delight in the little things, love with our whole hearts, and make the most out of each day we're given. Their positive impact radiates to everyone around them.

After hearing Kimberly's story, I would challenge each of us to:

  1. Proactively reach out and build a relationship with someone who has Down syndrome. Invite them over for dinner, include them in your next outing, or hire them at your business. Get to know them as individuals and make them feel valued.
  2. Look for opportunities to make your local community more welcoming and inclusive to those with Down syndrome and other disabilities. Support programs, spaces, and events that allow everyone to come together and connect.
  3. Reflect on how you can bring more of their appreciative, loving spirit into your own daily life. Practice gratitude, be generous with your affection, and don't take yourself too seriously! We could all stand to be a little more like Jack.

Thank you for supporting Conquering Your Clownfish. If you are interested in learning more about us and what we do, please visit our website at ConqueringYourClownfish.com.

If you would like to learn more about Kim, please visit KimDowDell.com

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