Terre K. Graham
Rockhurst University
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention, Philadelphia, PA
November 18-20, 2004
Poster 0960
  Reprinted with the permission of the author (Revision 2005)

Author's Information

Dr. Terre Graham is currently an assistant professor at Wichita State University in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. During this research, she was an assistant professor at Rockhurst University in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program.
You may contact Dr. Graham at:
Wichita State University
1845 Fairmount
Wichita, KS 67260-0028

Background Information

"Father" Defined in the Literature

What is Down Syndrome?

Characteristics of Children with Down Syndrome

Health Concerns Related to Down Syndrome

Prenatal Assessment and Diagnosis

Relationship of Down Syndrome Incidence to Mother's Age

  Mother's Age           Incidence of DS
Under 30 Less than 1 in 1000
30 1 in 900
35 1 in 400
36 1 in 300
37 1 in 230
38 1 in 180
39 1 in 350
40 1 in 105
42 1 in 60
44 1 in 35
46 1 in 20
48 1 in 16
49 1 in 12
Source: Hook, E.G. & Lindsjo, A.

Purpose of the Study


Father Descriptors

Children Descriptors


Fathers' Description of Their Child

Timeframe of Initial Diagnosis

Father's Reaction to Initial Diagnosis

The Day the Music Stopped

"It was the day the music stopped. Sadly, that is how my wife and I remember the birth of our twin sons. Before they were born, the hospital delivery room was bustling with activity, a happy medical team and LOTS of upbeat music. It was just like the movies."
"However, within minutes, we learned that one of the twins had Down syndrome. Instantly, the "chatter" ended, activity slowed and – you guessed it – the music stopped. At that time, we thought the abrupt halt to all that was upbeat in the delivery room represented how the rest of our lives – as well as my son's – would be."

A Father's Perspective #2

"I'm sure her intentions were well meaning. But I still struggle with what in the world was going through her and the Dr.'s minds. Are they truly sorry for these children? Do they believe that they cannot have hopes and dreams? How can we raise our children without any expectation for greatness? Certainly as we see them develop, we can frame a degree of success for them. But we obviously are not in control here."
"It does irritate me that they cannot give us the benefit of Divine intervention in my life or at least the fact that we could possibly have some influence on our children. I can only guess that they wonder if we made a choice here, but that is not entirely true. Our choice was to have a baby. And that is just what we got."
"I have to tell you that the medical profession was turning out to be the last place I wanted to go for support. I've always thought that perhaps because they saw and knew too much from their work experiences, their judgment was clouded. Our daughter was no longer a person, she was a diagnosis and the medical profession is so good about giving you the worst case scenario."

Medical Professionals

Comments of Professionals

Information Provided to Parents

Effects of Diagnosis

Effects on the Marriage

Effects on Siblings

Effects on Extended Family

Effects on Co-Workers & Friends

Early Intervention

Role in Language Development

General Comments

Support Group Participation

Child's Future

"If you treat an individual as he is, he will stay as he is; but if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be."
— Goethe

Hopes for the Future

What Does This Mean for Professionals?


Clarke-Stewart, K. A., (1978). And Daddy makes three: The father's impact on mother and young child. Child Development, 49, 446-478.

Lamb, M. E., (1975). Fathers: Forgotten contributors to child development. Human Development, 18, 245-266.

Lamb, M. E., (1986). The role of the father in child development. NY: Wiley.

Pueschel, S. M. (1990). A parent's guide to Down Syndrome: Toward a brighter future. Baltimore: Brookes.

Sparling, J., Berger, R., & Biller, M. E. (1992). Fathers: Myth, reality, and public law 99-457. Infants and Young Children, 4, (3), 9-19.