Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome, or D.A.D.S.

To read on D.A.D.S. website:

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Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome, or D.A.D.S., is a committee or community group (within a local Down syndrome support organization) of fathers of children who happen to have Down syndrome. We hesitate to call our self a « support group », even though we do, in many ways, support each other.

The 3 foundational pillars of D.A.D.S. are Support, Action and Fellowship. You won’t find us in a church basement drinking warm coffee and whining about having children with Down syndrome. Instead, you’ll find us out in the community coaching our kids’ sports teams, participating in our children’s IEPs, volunteering at local Down syndrome fund-raising events, and even sponsoring fund-raising events of our own.

The cornerstone of D.A.D.S. groups is the monthly meeting where members come together to share insights and experiences. Face it: there are certain responsibilities that generally fall on the shoulders of the father. Having a child with special needs often affects how we approach those responsibilities.

We invite expert speakers to discuss medical, educational, financial, social, and any other issues that affect our children’s lives. And of course, we share stories and experiences that are unique to fathers of children with Down syndrome. Your colleagues at the office may not understand your excitement when your 5 yr old makes « poopie » on the toilet for the first time, but other D.A.D.S. will, because we’ve all been there.


In the spring of 2002, eight men met (some for the first time) in a restaurant in Indianapolis, IN. Brought together by the notion of our founder, Joe Meares, that as the father of a child with Down syndrome, we could do more than just set up tables and cook hotdogs at our local Buddy Walks. What we experienced at that first meeting was an excitement and energy that carries through to this day; the idea that we as fathers could make a significant contribution to improve the lives of our children – and all individuals with Down syndrome by working together within their local Down syndrome support organization.

Today, with the help of D.A.D.S. National, over 50 Down syndrome support organizations in the US and beyond have engaged and harnessed the horsepower of fathers through Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome. To find out how to bring D.A.D.S. to your organization, contact us at

What a D.A.D.S. Group Does

While each D.A.D.S. group is independent and develops its own culture and programs, the cornerstone of a D.A.D.S. group is the monthly meeting. Occasional speakers, the « business » of D.A.D.S. and committee reports all take place, but are secondary to the safe forum for sharing, bragging, learning and growing with other fathers who truly understand.

Many D.A.D.S. groups host events for their kids and families to spend time together, such as parties, hayrides, fishing and sporting events.

D.A.D.S. sponsors new fund-raising opportunities and always harvests a crop of new donors.

D.A.D.S. provides the needed « muscle » for DSA events, walks, etc. and uses all events for recruitment.

D.A.D.S. uses their own communication vehicles (list-serve, Facebook, etc) for call to action opportunities, meeting and event updates and to keep all members involved, regardless of the frequency of their meeting attendance. D.A.D.S. builds programs, events and opportunities for involvement and ownership for its members, keeping equal respect on the foundational pillars: Support, Fellowship and Action.

D.A.D.S. National has many examples and strategies for program implementation.


To find contact information for a chapter near you visit our Chapters page.

For information about a D.A.D.S. program and our terms of usage agreement, contact us at

We encourage all fathers to join our national e-mail loop to keep up on issues, D.A.D.S. National updates and just have fun with fathers from around the globe.

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