In the spring of 2002, eight men met (some for the first time) in a restaurant in Indianapolis, IN. Brought together by the notion of their founder, Joe Meares, that as the fathers of children with Down syndrome, they could do more than just set up tables and cook hotdogs at their local Buddy Walks. What they experienced at that first meeting was an excitement and energy that carries through to this day; the idea that  fathers could make a significant contribution to improve the lives of their children – and all individuals with Down syndrome by working together within their local Down syndrome support organization.

Today, with the help of D.A.D.S. National, over 50 Down syndrome support organizations in the US and beyond have engaged and harnessed the horsepower of fathers through Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome. We are proud to be one of those organizations!

Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome, or D.A.D.S., is a group  of fathers of children who happen to have Down syndrome. We hesitate to call our self a “support group”, even though we do, in many ways, support each other.

The 3 foundational pillars of D.A.D.S. are SupportAction and Fellowship. You won’t find us in a church basement drinking warm coffee and whining about having children with Down syndrome. Instead, you’ll find us out in the community coaching our kids’ sports teams, participating in our children’s IEPs, volunteering at local Down syndrome fund-raising events, and even sponsoring fund-raising events of our own.

The cornerstone of D.A.D.S. groups is the monthly meeting where members come together to share insights and experiences. Face it: there are certain responsibilities that generally fall on the shoulders of the father. Having a child with special needs often affects how we approach those responsibilities.

We invite expert speakers to discuss medical, educational, financial, social, and any other issues that affect our children’s lives. And of course, we share stories and experiences that are unique to fathers of children with Down syndrome. Your colleagues at the office may not understand your excitement when your 5 yr old makes “poopie” on the toilet for the first time, but other D.A.D.S. will, because we’ve all been there.

If you would like more information about our D.A.D.S. group, please email us at dads@dsmaine.org