Diving into Down Syndrome, with Nao Pinard

voices of your village Jun 28, 2018



On today’s podcast, I had the amazing opportunity of talking to Nao Pinard who is the momma of two kiddos, Maya and Emalee. Shortly after Emalee was born, Nao and her husband, Sean, found out that their daughter had been diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Throughout our conversation, Nao shared with me her honest and real feelings that she experienced after giving birth to Emalee and all the challenging yet wonderful experiences that she has experienced since Emalee’s birth. Nao serves as an amazing resource for parents and family members who are coming into this journey or who are already in it. 

After Nao gave birth to Emalee it took her a lot of time to process what it was going to be like to raise a child with Down Syndrome. Luckily, Nao received an endless amount of support and encouragement from the hospital, which was reassuring.  One doctor, in particular, was incredibly helpful because not only was she a doctor but she was also a parent of a child with Down Syndrome. Through speaking with her, Nao got to hear how important is it to live in the moment and really learn how to focus on Emalee’s needs as they come rather than looking into the future. Nao took the doctor’s words to heart, took time for self-care, and began reaching out to the Down Syndrome community within her area. She came to a better place where she felt mentally present and soon began to realize how lucky she was to be caring for a child with Down Syndrome. 


“I think my daughter is perfect the way she is and I feel extremely lucky to get the opportunity to raise a child with Down Syndrome.”


With raising Emalee, both Nao and Sean knew that they were going to raise her the same way they were raising Maya. If Emalee needs any assistance or modifications they provide that for her, but Nao and Sean knew they didn’t want to raise her with the mindset that just because she has Down Syndrome, she isn’t capable of doing things that other children can do. So far, Emalee has proven not only her family but her therapists and doctors that she is capable of doing anything that she sets her mind to! Within the last three years, an array of therapists (physical and developmental) and doctors have worked alongside Emalee and have helped her to get to where she is today. As Nao shared, children with Down Syndrome are born with physical and intellectual developmental delays. Depending on the child’s needs, many therapists work to help children improve their low muscle tone. Nao also stressed the importance of reaching out to other families of children with Down Syndrome within the area because those people will serve as a great resource and will be able to provide an array of doctors and therapists that really understand and know how to work with children with Down Syndrome. 

Right now, Nao and her family are working hard to help Emalee build those essential language and physical foundations so as she grows up she will have those foundations to help her be as independent and self-efficient as she can be.


“Our goal for her has been and always will be to achieve her greatest potential and for us to be able to provide her with the means necessary to be able to reach that potential and whatever that looks like as long as she is happy and is as independent as she possibly can”


From reading an array of children’s books about Down Syndrome to going to therapy and doctors appointments, and to being open and honest in daily conversations, Nao and Sean always made sure to talk to Maya about what it means to have a sibling with Down Syndrome. As Nao also shared, both Emalee and Maya are surrounded by a strong and wonderful community of other children who have Down Syndrome.  The families within this community have an extra level of understanding that other families may not have, which creates a safe and encouraging place for Nao to share her struggles, stories, and celebrations with. 


“I’m so thankful that I have those families in our life and I’m so happy that Maya gets to have other friends who have siblings with Down Syndrome. I love how Emalee plays with her friends and I’m really excited that we have a community where our kids can grow-up and hopefully stay friends forever!” 


As Nao and I wrapped up our conversation, I asked her what is one thing she wished others knew about Down Syndrome. Nao couldn’t express enough how wonderful it has been raising Emalee. Initially, when parents find out their child has Down Syndrome they are devastated and only really know the general information that often comes with a negative tone, but what they don’t know is all the joy and happiness that comes when they accomplish their milestones both big and small. 

If you wish to connect with Nao you can find her on Instagram: rightnao

Nao also provided me with a wonderful list of books, for both adults and children, to share with you!

Children Books: 









Adult Books: 













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