Changing perspectives on Down syndrome

Kristin Lanari’s younger sister, Lauren, is a pianist who loves to dance and bake cookies. Lauren also has Down syndrome, a condition where a child’s physical and cognitive development is delayed due to the presence of too many chromosomes.

The Compass, newspaper of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wis., recently published a story about what Kristin is trying to accomplish on the behalf of people with Down syndrome.

Now that prenatal genetic testing can predict Down syndrome in an unborn baby, up to 90 percent of women opt for abortion if it’s determined their child has it. Kristin Lanari, a cantor, choir member and eucharistic minister at St. Joseph Parish in Appleton, Wis., was horrified by that statistic.

Lanari figured if there were more information and education available about “Down’s people,” doctors would be less inclined to recommend abortion and families would be less inclined to take that recommendation. With a grant from the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities, she is compiling reflections for a book of stories about having a sibling with Down syndrome. Lanari hopes the books can be distributed to clinics, hospitals and schools to help families who learn the condition exists in their baby.

Lanari will be accepting submissions through the end of July. if you are interested in participating, e-mail her at

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