When Chicago blogger Katie Driscoll learned that her fetus carried the chromosome for Down syndrome, she quickly realized that unfair stereotypes of the disorder still ran rampant. In a HuffPost Live discussion about raising children with special needs, she shared how she uses photography and social media to dispel negative perceptions of people with disabilities.
Driscoll, the mother of five boys, gave up on her dream of having a daughter by the time she was pregnant with her sixth child. It wasn't until after she delivered Grace that she discovered her sons finally had a sister. "I almost fell off the table, literally. I had no idea," Driscoll recalled. "And they asked me what her name was, and I had no idea."
Although Driscoll decided not to find out her baby's sex ahead of time, she knew from a prenatal diagnosis that the fetus had Down syndrome. "When I got the diagnosis, I didn't even know what Down syndrome was. I had a visual in my mind, but I had no idea," Driscoll said. "So I went home, and I hit the Google and I just learned and researched. And through that, I realized that the perceptions out there were still kind of in the Dark Ages. Even in the four years that she's been here, they've changed a great deal."
Rather than simply discount the negative stereotypes of Down syndrome that she encountered, Driscoll decided to help change them. "I picked up a camera and I started documenting her life and sharing it with my friends and family. And from there, I started the blog," she said. "I really feel it's important for parents, especially in the beginning of their journey, to connect with other families who are walking the same road. I grow from mothers that went before me, and it's my job to take what they started and push it forward."
Driscoll's blog not only connects families of children with special needs, but also aims to bring their stories to the forefront. "I've really focused on helping to change the media perception in advertising, and getting these kids out there and in front of the general public. Because I truly believe to the core of my heart that if these children and these individuals are seen more in the general media, that the perception and acceptance will come."