21 Stories for WDSD- Special Friendships

Special Friendships

My son Ian is 35. He has been lucky to have a wonderful group of friends throughout his life. Friendships are so important for our children with Down syndrome and others with special needs. It might not seem necessary to work on those friendships while your children are young and involved in school and activities, but be sure to nurture them along the way.

Ian and Jonathan first met when Ian was 9 months old and Jonathan was 19 months old.   Ian followed Jonathan though school, they were in Special Olympics together, did acting at the Delaware Theater Company, attended dances, parties, and hung out. Through these activities the group of friends became larger and the boys had interest in Powerlifting and WWE . A local wrestling group ECWA came along and gave them a activity to get them out every 4-6 weeks. Without Jonathan’s father Hank,  organizing these outings this wouldn’t be possible.

Hank because the photographer for ECWA and was there at all the meets and so were the boys. ECWA moved their venue far away so the boys got to go to the Boys and Girls Club to see Right Coast Pro Wrestling. They sit in the front row yell, cheer and heckle the wrestlers! They are loved by everyone at RCP wrestling. They know exactly when the next match is! Ian waves his hand over his face saying “You can’t see me”- John Cena’s tag line. That’s how I know the next match is coming.

After the matches, the boys go to Buffalo Wild Wings and sometimes Hooters for one of the boys birthday for “Burgers and Beers”. Just what any typical guys their age would be doing. 

I am truly grateful my son has a network of guys he can call friends. It wouldn’t be possible without the parents of these awesome men. The group started out with Ian, Jonathan, Dominic and David. Later came Marc and Ryan. These are all wonderful guys with amazing families. We were the fist group of “mainstreamed” children. They had friends without special needs along the way.  Our boys lost touch with them when their friends went off to live their “normal” lives. I’m sure knowing our boys touched their lives in positive ways. Hopefully making the world a better place for our communities. My point is relationships our boys have as adults with Down syndrome or other special needs are important for their wellbeing and mental health so nurture those relationships so they have a group of meaningful friendships throughout their lives.


About the Author: Cathy Stiles-DeNest lives in Bear with her son, Ian. Cathy is a hair stylist by trade.