Dads Appreciating Down syndrome (D.A.D.S.)
Here at Down Syndrome Indiana, we believe the attitude of the father becomes the attitude of the family!
Down Syndrome Indiana volunteers have been starting and supporting D.A.D.S. groups across the country since 2002. The program is obviously successful with over 40 chapters to date from Maine to California and Florida to emerging groups in the Pacific North West. There are over 200 local Down syndrome associations in the US, each with the potential to support a D.A.D.S. chapter with training, support and exposure to its program and organization.
On a local level, Down Syndrome Indiana currently hosts the monthly D.A.D.S. meetings in Indianapolis which is NOT a “support group” in the stereotypical mold: church basement, folding chairs, bad coffee in Styrofoam cups. Just as the roles of fathers have changed in our lifetime, D.A.D.S. addresses the changing roles of fathers in the Down syndrome movement with FELLOWSHIP, ACTION and SUPPORT.
DSI D.A.D.S. monthly meetings are held on the 2nd Tuesday of every month at 6:30 PM. We meet at George's Neighborhood Grill located at 6935 Lake Plaza (off of 71st & Binford). DSI D.A.D.S. will pick up the check for your meal and the soft drinks. (Alcoholic drinks are available but you pay for those on your own.) Contact Don Crane at email@example.com for more informaiton.
Any dad – or grandfather, uncle, brother, teacher, physician – who cares for someone who has Down syndrome, is invited. Dinner and soft drinks are provided. Here is what one Dad had to say following the February 2009 meeting where Charlene Davis, Nurse Practitioner and Director of the Ann Whitehill Down Syndrome Clinic at Riley Children’s Hospital spoke and answered questions:
“I thought last night's meeting was REALLY GREAT! Not only because of the number of DADS in attendance, but the format of interaction with the speaker gave a lot of guys the chance to interact and ask questions. In fact, I was so impressed that I started taking notes with the intention of creating a summary of the discussion to distribute over the DADS loop.”
There is research and personal testimony to support a D.A.D.S. group having a positive impact on responsible fatherhood, a healthy marriage and even economic stability. For example, in 1989, a study conducted by Frey, Fewell, Vadasy and Greenburg in Topics in Early Childhood Education, it was found that in, “Families in which a father has been actively involved in programs of support and resource enrichment concluded the entire family benefits from such participation. Fathers, and mothers, reported improved self esteem; they experience significantly less stress and sadness. Families believed they had substantially fewer problems in dealing with their child with special needs. There also was a positive effect upon the fathers’ satisfaction with other familial supports. In follow up studies, these benefits appeared to endure over time, even when the father was no longer an active member of the program”. This is so important in the field of disabilities because, it is estimated that 90% of marriages that involve a child with a disability end in divorce. That’s why statements like the one below from fathers that are directly involved in D.A.D.S. are so encouraging…
“Without a doubt, being a part of D.A.D.S. has challenged me to be a better and more involved father and husband, as well as a stronger advocate for my daughter with Down syndrome. Many of the D.A.D.S. members are some of the best friends I have ever had.”
Down Syndrome Indiana’s DSI D.A.D.S. was the first of over 50 chapters and D.A.D.S. is our gift the greater Ds community.DSI helped launch D.A.D.S. National, who helps other Down syndrome organizations start D.A.D.S. as a committee or community group. To find out more about the work of D.A.D.S. National, please visit, www.dadsnational.org
- To create a network of fathers willing to develop a program based on the needs of the men involved;
- To enhance a fathers knowledge and resources about children and individual with Down syndrome;
- To enhance personal advocacy skills;
- To heighten a family’s ability in coping with the unique challenges of raising a child with Down syndrome;
- To provide a safe atmosphere of support where men can openly share;
- To enhance a man’s inherent nurturing and care-taking skills;
- To have fun and build camaraderie and friendships among fathers.
Research suggests that, “When programs actively involve the fathers of disabled children with their children, this can foster increased father-child involvement at home, enhancing father-child attachment and contributing to the child’s cognitive and social development” (Lamb & Laumann-Billings, 1997).
Can we count on your support to help us build stronger, more involved families?