The leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome.

National Down Syndrome Society
8 E 41st Street, 8th Floor
New York New York 10017
[email protected] 

Just One of the Boys
Baby Dominic
Baby Dominic
Just One of the Boys

When we brought our son Dominic home from the hospital, his older brothers had a lot of questions.

"Mom, what is Down syndrome?" Max asked.

"Down syndrome is what happens when a person has one extra chromosome," I said.

"But what is a chromosome?" Max asked.

"A chromosome is a set of instructions. You know how sometimes I tell you something to do and then your sisters come in and boss you around and each of them tells you what to do, and things get confusing?"

Both my boys nodded vigorously.

"Well, chromosomes tell a baby how to start growing inside the mom. When there are too many instructions in there, things can get confusing."

I pulled them closer.

"Open your hand," I told Max. "You see those lines all over your palm? See how you have one here and here?" Max nodded. Atticus took off the baseball glove he'd been wearing all afternoon, unfurled his fingers and looked down. I traced the lines on their hands then showed them mine. All of us had several creases across our palms.

"Look at Dominic's hands, and tell me what you see," I said.

Max reached down and unclenched the baby's fists. First one, then the other. "There's only one line," he said.

"Right," I said.

"Only one. That happens with Down syndrome. Somehow the instructions for how many lines to put on a hand got a little mixed up.

"There are other things, too," I told them. "See how all your fingers are straight? Dominic's pinky fingers have a curve in them. His ears are lower than yours, and his eyes look a little different than yours do, too. Now do you think that is a problem?" They shook their heads.

"Did I ever have Down Syndrome?" Atticus asked.

"No, it doesn't work like that," I told him. "Either you have it or you don't. If you have Down syndrome, you have it for your whole life. Dominic will always have it, and you never will."

Atticus nodded. "Oh," he said.

"There is one other thing that you can't really see right now." I continued. "Dominic's muscles are a little bit weaker than yours were when you were a baby. He might have trouble learning to do some things that you can do, or it might take him a little longer to learn to do things. You can help him with that."

"Yeah, because I'm strong," Atticus told me. He flexed his muscles to prove his point.

Max saw that as a challenge, and soon they were comparing biceps and assuring me they were very, very strong. The older boys hugged me and ran out to play baseball. I held the baby, and looked forward to the day when the older boys would teach Dominic to play too. After all, he's just one of the boys.

Vote for your favorite story! Each month, the two stories with the most votes will be featured in the NDSS E-Newsletter.*


Your email address will be used for voter tracking only, and will not be used for future NDSS emails.
Click here to become a fan on Facebook.
Click here to follow us on Twitter.

*Votes will be reset at the end of each month.

Full Name
Comments (1,000 character limit)

Jill Hoskins, United States, IA
5/8/2013 9:51:23 AM
Great explanations!

Andria Heinz, United States, FL
5/1/2013 6:41:50 PM
What a beautiful way of explaining DS. We did not know our daughter had DS until she was born & I've struggled with explaining DS to friends & family who've never been around or exposed to an individual with DS. You can tell people that DS is the result of an extra chromosome, but the way you explained it makes it so clear & makes complete sense. I know I will use your explanation in the future. Thank you for sharing your family's story.

Barb Thompson, United States, AR
5/1/2013 1:38:02 PM
Great job explaining DS to your other children. We had a similar conversation with our then-10 year old boy when his baby sister was born. They are now 23 and 12, and he is still her biggest protector and cheerleader.

Pamela Bonsper, United States, CA
5/1/2013 10:58:43 AM
Thank you for a delightful story. I have a little four and a half year old grandson with Down syndrome and his little two and a half year old sister is beginning to wonder why he doesn't talk like she does and why he doesn't keep up with her. When she gets a little older, I will use your story to help her understand. (He's doing very well by the way...goes to pre school on the bus by himself and rides a horse every Thursday!)

Patsy Ballard, United States, TN
5/1/2013 10:29:56 AM
What an excellent way to explain Down Syndrome!

Jerry Lynn, United States, CA
4/16/2013 6:43:19 PM

Samira Fraher, United States, CA
4/16/2013 10:55:49 AM
I liked how she explained the problem to her kids in a way they can relate and understand.

Kim Moore, United States, CA
4/16/2013 10:52:17 AM
I loved the way the Mom explained DS to the older boys.

Annette, United States, CA
4/16/2013 10:28:28 AM
Oh my what a heartwarming story! God Bless you even more abundantly than He already has!

Meghan Meyer, United States, CA
4/16/2013 12:49:12 AM
Didn't even bother to read the other stories. This one melted my heart and got my vote from the start!

Chelsea Stallings, United States, CA
4/16/2013 12:06:40 AM
Great story! Thanks for sharing!

Kimberlee Ingraham, United States, CA
4/15/2013 11:51:33 PM
Great story!

Ed Graziano, United States, CA
4/15/2013 11:35:59 PM

Ed Graziano, United States, CA
4/15/2013 11:33:40 PM

Sarah Lewis, United States, TX
4/7/2013 10:16:07 PM
Wonderful story! I know a couple of Downs people! They are truly amazing!

Katrina Wolf, United States, CA
4/4/2013 6:35:13 PM
That is so cool that Atticus and Max already want to protect Dominic and help him.

sarah maher, United States, CA
4/4/2013 5:20:56 PM
Thanks for this insight in explaining DS to children!

Kathy S., United States, CA
4/4/2013 4:20:49 PM
Great story...I'm sure they will all teach each other so much!

AMY SCHAEFER, United States, TX
4/4/2013 3:27:28 PM
Such a heartfelt LOVING story!! And a great way to explain DS to younger children, loving and true!!

  • Buddy Walk
  • NDSS Yourway
  • NDSS DS-Ambassadors