Every parent can agree that the job is very challenging. Douglas Dohrman explained that being the parent of a daughter with Down syndrome has all of the same challenges as parenting a typical child. There are situations that require more patience and there are unique challenges with a special needs child. However, there are also rewards and gifts for Douglas Dohrman and other parents of children with Down syndrome.
Every year 1 out of 1,000 babies are born with Down Syndrome, a chromosomal disorder that is caused by an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. It is the most common chromosomal disorder in the entire United States. Douglas Dohrman has a daughter with Down Syndrome and he shared the lessons and gifts being her parent.
Douglas Dohrman explained that a critical characteristic of parenting a special needs child is patience. A lot of patience. More patience than you ever thought you needed. Children with special needs, and Down syndrome, have different timelines for development. They are in fact each very individual in the level of their needs and accommodations to be successful in school and life.
Overall, an essential lesson Douglas Dohrman shared was to accept your child for who they are on the inside and the outside. His daughter has an extra chromosome and recognizable facial features, but she is not entirely defined by the label of Down syndrome.
Celebrating the successes, big and small, is also a key to embracing the gift of having a child with Down syndrome. One of Douglas Dohrman’s best moments in life was when his daughter was named Homecoming Queen for her high school. His daughter was well-loved in her school community. Douglas Dohrman heard many teachers and fellow students remark about how kind and loving his daughter was during her time at her school. She served as an inspiration to the school community, and also to her father.
The overall lesson of being a parent of a daughter with Down syndrome for Douglas Dohrman is that there are both challenges and gifts. Most of life is filled with challenging and rewarding people and situations. It comes down to how you embrace those moments and individuals that give the true and richest gifts of life.
Douglas Dohrman was raised in a small farming town in Iowa before earning a BS in Biology and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. His postdoctoral fellowship work was at the University of California, San Francisco Department of Neurology. While living in the San Francisco area he traveled with his family and friends to wine country where he fell in love with everything related to wine. He is a devoted husband and father to 3 children, including one daughter with Down syndrome.