How Caterina Scorsone Explained Her Daughter's Down Syndrome Diagnosis to Her Older Child

In a new interview for the Motherly podcast, Caterina Scorsone opens up about her daughter's diagnosis — and how she and her husband were prepared for it

The bond between Caterina Scorsone‘s two daughters couldn’t be sweeter.

In an interview for the Motherly podcast‘s Thursday episode, the Grey’s Anatomy star opened up about how she has approached explaining her 2-year-old younger child Paloma “Pippa” Michaela‘s Down syndrome diagnosis to her big sister Eliza, 6½.

“She’s developing slower but she’s still developing — she’s still hitting all of the milestones. It’s just happening at a different rate,” said Scorsone, 37. “That was an easy way to help Eliza understand what was happening — that [Pippa] was going to be a baby for a little bit longer.”

Caterina Scorsone/Instagram; Inset: David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty

“And Eliza just thinks that she’s really lucky because she still gets to be carried,” added the actress. “All Eliza really thinks is that Pippa’s lucky because she gets to be a baby for longer.”

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Caterina Scorsone’s daughter Paloma. Caterina Scorsone/Instagram

Pippa’s diagnosis has not prevented the girls from bonding big-time, Scorsone said on the podcast, sharing that they exhibit a “really typical sibling relationship” and are “starting to have a fun dynamic” nowadays.

“Eliza really likes to play Harry Potter with her and Pippa plays the role of Hedwig, and she can definitely say ‘Hoo Hoo’ and Eliza thinks that’s hilarious,” she revealed.

Pippa has also taught her mom more about the robust nature of communication since her arrival. As Scorsone explained, “My daughter learns visually better than she learns through auditory learning and so she speaks sign language because that is easier for her to learn first. That’s beautiful!”

“There are things that I’ve learned in sign language, signs that have opened up a whole way of looking at a word, that I wouldn’t have had if I was only using verbal language, so yeah, I see what she has as a difference,” she went on. “Her chromosomes are unfolding exactly as they were supposed to, just as mine are.”

Caterina Scorsone/Instagram

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Scorsone revealed that she and husband Rob Giles had “talked a lot about” the possibility of one of their children having Down syndrome before Pippa’s arrival in fall 2016.

“For some reason, ever since high school, he had vaguely thought he might have a child with DS, which is a very weird thing to think as a high-school student,” she recalled. “He’s got a very intuitive soul. And so we talked a lot about it and how it is a cognitive and a physical difference, but that it’s a beautiful diversity.”

“And we have been very philosophically fine with it, but then of course when you have a kid with DS, you’re like, ‘Ahh, I don’t know what to do, I haven’t seen this modeled,’ ” explained the Private Practice alum.

Caterina Scorsone/Instagram

Fortunately, Scorsone has received tons of support along the way from other moms who have children with Down syndrome, explaining that they have “showed up in an incredible way” for her.

“Communities often come together through the very thing that normative society would say is your vulnerability and it opens up an intimacy,” she said. “The moms in the DS community are a magic love army and they kind of embrace you completely. The other moms are really kind of leaning into the power of that love and that connection.”

Elsewhere in the chat, the actress shared an epiphany moment she had that made her re-examine her relationship with her older child — and everyone else around her. “I saw how I was loving my first daughter, Eliza, for her qualities,” Scorsone recounted. “I loved Eliza so much because she was so clever, and she was so beautiful and she was so funny … but all those things were external qualities.”

The mother of two went on to explain that making a shift within herself to “loving people for … their essence” ended up being “the most healing and nourishing gift that I could have possibly been given by the universe.”

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