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Body Positivity

Mom of Special Needs Son Shares Their Uplifting Story: ‘Down Syndrome Isn’t a Tragedy’

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Oakley Peterson is opening up about raising a son with Down syndrome in a touching video that now has over 3.5 million views on Facebook.

“People do have misconceptions about people with special needs, and I think for them to see this quality of life of this child is resonating with a lot of people,” Peterson, 30, tells PEOPLE about why she believes her Jane.com video has gone viral.

Peterson knew from the very beginning that her son Welles, now 3, was special.

“When we were in the hospital when he was in the NICU, I just knew that he had this mission of positivity to spread,” she says. “We were still processing and dealing with a lot of shock, but I just kind of knew – even going through the process of mourning the loss of who I thought I was having – I could feel the specialness from him and this crazy, unconditional love, and I just knew that there was something about him that I needed to share.”

Peterson began sharing her journey and experiences through her blog, Nothing Down About It. She admits that when Welles was first diagnosed, she knew very little about Down syndrome.

“I thought, ‘Is it something I did when I was pregnant or something genetic?’ It can be genetic, but that’s incredibly rare. It’s typically just a fluke with the 21st chromosome,” she explains. “I didn’t know that.”

Scott Peterson
Scott Peterson

She was also surprised to see how positively Welles has impacted her whole family.

“Initially, my thought was our whole lives are going to change, we’re never going to be able to do this, we’re never going to be able to do that,” says the Utah-based blogger and mom of three. “I’m constantly surprised because I find we can still do trips as a couple and fun family adventures. It’s not holding us back. We do all the normal things and he just brings more perks to the table.”

Peterson says Welles is able to experience life in a way that most people cannot.

“Welles is just thrilled with everything,” she says. “He’s thrilled to touch the different textures of plants, and the way things feel on his lips. He enjoys and savors all the things that we constantly are overlooking. He appreciates and loves in a way that we are not able to do. He has this lust for life that is so beautiful. I wish everybody could understand that.”

WATCH: Model with Down Syndrome Makes New York Fashion Week History!

 

She hopes that Welles will grow up in a society that is more accepting than the one we live in now.

“We talk about acceptance and loving everyone, but it gets a little bit hypocritical when it comes to kids with special needs,” she says. “I want everyone to know that this not a terminal illness. This is not some kind of horrible disease. Down syndrome isn’t a tragedy.”

“My biggest mission is just to say, ‘Look at this happy beautiful boy and this family that’s incredibly blessed because of who he is,'” she continues. “Down syndrome doesn’t define him, but it is a big part of who he is. Down syndrome is not going to stop him from having a wonderful life.”