Meet Natalie: A Happy, Thriving Little Girl With Down Syndrome
Natalie Sileo, daughter of Stream contributing senior editor Tom Sileo, is 3 1/2 years old.
“Hi Dada,” our Natalie, who has Down syndrome, recently said. “How are you?”
“Hi Nat,” I replied. “I’m good. How are you?”
“I’m good,” she said with a smile.
While this might seem like a routine conversation between a 3-year-old girl and her dad, the significance for a child with Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome, cannot be overstated. As I have been witnessing firsthand, Natalie has to work extra hard to speak clearly and enunciate, whether through speech therapies, online video exercises or intensely practicing with her mother. It made her so proud to say those words, and her parents even prouder to hear them.
Since Natalie was born in 2020, I have been periodically writing about her journey and sharing the joy that Natalie and other children with Down syndrome and special needs bring to the world. As our daughter continues to learn and thrive, I thought today would be a good time to share some recent pictures of Natalie lighting up the lives of everyone she meets with her smile. I hope these images bring some happiness to your day!
This was taken on Natalie’s first day of school, where she receives essential therapies. She loves her teachers and gives many hugs to her new classmates.
Natalie often goes to daycare after school. Wendy, who has been watching Natalie since she was an infant, has been a blessing to our family.
Natalie loves books: especially Halloween Scare in New York, which was given to her by Bob and Linda Ollis, Gold Star parents of fallen U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis. Thank you so much for the generous gift, Linda and Bob!
Natalie loved wearing a firefighter hat that was given to her while we recently ate lunch at Firehouse Subs in Delray Beach, Florida.
“Daddy, I stole your hat!” Natalie loves to “steal” my hats before putting them back on my head a few moments later.
“I see a guitar!” Natalie was in awe of the giant guitar at the Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, Florida, where we recently spent a day at the pool.
“French fries?” Natalie absolutely loves french fries and asks for them at almost every meal. During a recent family lunch on Florida’s Key Biscayne, she got her wish.
Nat’s name is inspired by my hometown baseball team, the Washington Nationals, who won the World Series just a few months before she was born. On August 26, Nat got a chance to cheer on her beloved Nats in Miami, where the Nationals beat the Marlins, 3-2.
Just as Stream founder and publisher James Robison told my wife and me during a phone call shortly before our daughter was born, Natalie is a gift from God.
Like millions of children and adults with Down syndrome and other special needs, these extraordinary human beings deserve our respect and high praise for their hard work and inherent goodness. They bring out the best in us, and in return, we must always work to improve the quality of life for our country’s unique and precious special needs community.
Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is the author of the forthcoming I Have Your Back, the recently released Be Bold and co-author of Three Wise Men, Brothers Forever, 8 Seconds of Courage and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on X @TSileo and The Stream at @Streamdotorg.