Human Rights

Ireland has a ‘lifeline’ for parents with a Down syndrome diagnosis

Ireland, Down syndrome

When Orla Browne had her son Harry three years ago in Ireland, she found herself overwhelmed when he received a diagnosis of Down syndrome at birth. In the early haze of navigating the diagnosis, one of her first “lifelines” was Down Syndrome Ireland (DSI), an organization that “provide[s] support and services to people with Down syndrome and their families.”

In an interview with The Clare Champion, Browne discusses how important DSI was to her after receiving Harry’s diagnosis. She said that while she received a lot of information about what might be “wrong” with her son, DSI instead provided immense support and reassurance. “We were in fear of what his life would be like and looking back there was no need to be,” she said. “I got in contact with one of the parent support workers, who came out to us with her little boy, and that was the first time I thought, ‘This is going to be okay’.”

READ: Northern Ireland mother starts charity to help new parents of children with Down syndrome

Browne said that many of the families she met through DSI have helped her find the best therapists, services, and support for her and Harry. For instance, DSI has subsidized a therapist that has experience working with children with Down syndrome, which Browne says has made all the difference for Harry’s development.


Browne’s story highlights how vital organizations like DSI are, especially as so many parents are encouraged to abort their children whenever there is a fear that they may have a disability. Throughout much of the world, preborn children are routinely slaughtered in the womb simply because there is a chance that they will be born with Down syndrome. While many doctors make it seem as if having a child with Down syndrome is unbearable, parents of children with Down syndrome routinely report that their children are a blessing, not a curse. As Browne’s story shows, this is not something that anyone has to navigate alone. There is support available for parents who choose life.

Browne told the paper that while she gets lots of sympathy from those around her, she’s not as afraid about what life with Harry might look like. “People don’t stare, but you would still often get that sympathetic smile as if to ask, ‘Is this your life?’ I smile back as if to say, ‘It is, and it’s fantastic,'” she said.

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