'Grey’s Anatomy' Star Caterina Scorsone Opens Up About Daughter With Down Syndrome in Moving Essay
By Latifah Muhammad
David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
Caterina Scorsone is celebrating her 3-year-old daughter, Paloma "Pippa" Michaela.
In honor of Down syndrome awareness month, the Grey’s Anatomystaropens up about parenting a child with Down syndrome in a beautiful essay for Good Morning America on Thursday.
“My daughter Pippa has rainbow-colored eyes,” begins the doting mom. “The colors go the other way around, like an upside down rainbow. It starts with an indigo ring around her iris that gives way to a deep evergreen, which sparkles into hazel flecks that turn a sunset shade of golden orange near the center. The colors stand out, differentiated by the Brushfield spots, which come with the 47th chromosome that creates Down syndrome in a person’s DNA. Pippa has Down syndrome.”
“But Pippa isn’t Down syndrome. Pippa is Pippa,” Scorsone continues. “Her hair is like soft-spun caramel. She likes wearing dresses more than pants. She particularly likes dresses with moons and stars on them. She likes popcorn and Totoro and elephants. Pippa loves her big sister and her baby sister, too. She likes toast with butter, trampolining, and lip-syncing to Sia and the ‘Sing’ soundtrack. Pippa likes the color red and does not like having her hair washed in the tub. She likes swimming and sign language and coconut water.”
“Pippa is different,” adds the mother of three, who recently filed for divorce from Rob Giles, her husband of 10 years. The busy mom has two more daughters, 8-year-old Elizaand 10-month-old Lucinda.
Scorsone says Pippa uses a “visual learning profile” that makes it easier for her to learn from pictures and printed words, rather than hearing a teacher. Although she was able to read “simple words” at three, Scorsone explains that it took Pippa a little longer to talk due to “differences in her oral motor planning and muscle tone.”
“Pippa has almond-shaped eyes and a slightly wider sandal gap between her toes. She is small for her age but her eyes are wise. She always says what she means and doesn’t suffer fools,” Scorsone writes.
“Pippa is different. So are you and so am I,” Scorsone notes before sharing that her daughter’s needs are specific to “the way her body was made,” just like everyone else.
Because of her Down syndrome, Pippa will require “therapies designed to support her learning differences and physical challenges,” as well as “more media visibility for people who look like her,” and life skills to become more self-sufficient as she gets older. “She’ll need some support to get an equal shot at life,” Scorsone points out. “She’ll need equity.”
Scorsone goes on to explain that “equity” is more important than “equality” because it means embracing “our differences” whereas, “Equality sometimes accidentally erases them and in doing so, creates disadvantages and inequality for a great many people.”
“Regardless of the number of chromosomes or abilities we have, the gender we express, the money in our bank account, the color of our skin or the learning profile we respond to best, human beings have the same needs. We need love, safety, dignity and connection.”
“But human beings are different, we are specific, and we need to be loved and supported individually," Scorsone writes in closing. “We are the unique and distinct notes of an infinite musical composition. We are every beautiful rainbow color refracted through the mysterious prism of life. We are equal, different and miraculous, like Pippa’s eyes.”