Itchy and scratchy: Two new treatments may offer hope for eczema sufferers

There are two new discoveries in the field of eczema treatment that could bring relief to the millions of Canadians who suffer from the itchy and irritating skin condition.

Image result for Itchy and scratchy: Two new treatments may offer hope for eczema sufferers

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published the results of two clinical trials of a new drug called Dupilumab that has shown to bestow considerable benefits on eczema sufferers, including eradication of atopic dermatitis (the most common form of eczema) at the irritation site. The promising results have prompted the FDA to expedite the drug’s review status, meaning it could be available as early as March 2017.

“This drug is very viable for several reasons,” says Dr. Jaggi Rao, dermatologist and clinical professor of medicine at the University of Alberta. “First, the mechanism of action is scientifically sound – we now understand the various components of the immune system that are altered to cause atopic dermatitis, and this drug positively affects this abnormality to control the disease. We have seen similar antibody therapies work magnificently for psoriasis, hidradenitis [a condition where lumps form under the skin] and other skin diseases, so it makes sense that this will work for eczema. This is very exciting because it will be the first biologic agent to be approved for debilitating eczema.”

His sentiments were echoed by Mona Gohara, a dermatology professor at Yale School of Medicine, who described the drug’s effects as “life changing” in an interview with StyleCaster.

Another inside-out remedy for atopic dermatitis was recently revealed by researchers at the University of Edinburgh. Human beta-defensin 2 (hBD2), a peptide that is naturally occurring in the body but usually lacking in those who suffer from atopic dermatitis, has been shown to stimulate cells to produce a protective compound on the skin’s surface. Sufferers of this condition typically carry a bacteria on their skin called staphylococcus aureus, which can cause infections and damage to the skin barrier, further exacerbating their irritation. By applying a topical version of hBD2, they can strengthen protection against bacterial damage.

While some dermatologists have lauded this discovery, others aren’t so hopeful.

“As a topical agent, we don’t know if there will be sufficient penetrative capability to exert an effect,” Dr. Rao says. “Also, there’s the question of whether a synthesized substance can work to replace a naturally occurring substance that is low, and it may not address other factors that are at play with eczema aside from bacterial influences.”

In the meantime, there are other measures atopic dermatitis sufferers can take to curb the condition. Dr. Lisa Kellett, dermatologist and founder of DLK on Avenue, advises taking baths (not showers) with tepid water, and applying an emollient to wet or damp skin can soothe symptoms.

“Atopic dermatitis is associated with allergies like asthma and hay fever, and people who have these conditions are prone to nut allergies, so it might be wise to avoid eating them,” she says. “Also steer clear of histamine releasing foods,” like tomatoes, eggs, shellfish and chocolate.



The Ketogenic Diet: An Ultimate Guide to Keto

Over recent years, ketogenic diets have become increasingly popular.

The diet is otherwise known as ‘keto,’ and it’s high in fat and extremely low in carbs.

But there are a few things to be aware of, such as the benefits, best foods to eat, foods to avoid, possible dangers and side effects.

This guide will show you all of these things.

Also, the guide provides sample keto meal plans, snack ideas, and guidance on where to find the best online keto resources.

What is a Ketogenic Diet?

Picture showing an example of a ketogenic diet

Ketogenic diets are a way of eating that focus on strictly limiting carbohydrate.

And if implemented well, ketogenic diets can be incredibly beneficial.

By and large, those following a keto plan eat higher amounts of fat, moderate protein, and a very small amount of carbs.

Keto macros

As long as you keep carbs very low, then keto is possible on a range of macronutrient ratios.

However, in my case I’d aim for macros similar to this:

  • Carbohydrate: 5-10%
  • Fat: 60-75%
  • Protein: 20-30%

How do keto diets work?

When you keep carbs very low for an extended period, the body enters nutritional ketosis.

Ketosis refers to a state in which the body starts burning fat for energy rather than carbohydrate.

On a typical high carb diet, the body burns glucose. In contrast, the ketogenic diet encourages the body to start using ketones for fuel.

Ketones are a type of molecule that our liver produces during times of carbohydrate restriction (or overall low food intake).

The human body can use both glucose and ketones for fuel.

How many carbohydrates should I eat?

Respected low carb researchers Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney advise aiming for an upper limit of 50 grams total carbs. Below this number is also widely accepted as a ketogenic diet (1).

Generally speaking, you can eat this amount of carbohydrate and still be in ketosis.

However, everybody is different, and the exact number will depend on the individual – it might be 35g, or it might be 70g.

How can I tell I’m in ketosis?

There are many signs which suggest you might be in ketosis:

  • Rapid weight loss, usually due to a drop in water weight
  • Better feelings of satiety and reduced food cravings
  • Possible short-term side effects such as bad breath and fatigue

If you want to be 100% sure, then you can use a ketone breath analyzer or a urine strip to measure for ketones.

Key Point: A ketogenic diet is a way of eating that restricts carbohydrate, has a moderate amount of protein, and a high-fat content.

Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet

Keto wouldn’t be so popular if it didn’t have benefits–and there are many of them.

  • Picture of a girl taking blood test on a ketogenic dietBlood sugar and insulin levels improve: 

    As ketogenic diets cut out sugar and carbohydrates, blood sugar levels tend to fall. In recent times, many people with diabetes are successfully managing their condition using a keto plan (2).

  • Effortless dieting:

    Have you ever tried a low-fat diet before? If you have, you may remember how difficult it can be to control food cravings.

    However, keto diets encourage satiety due to their higher fat and protein content (3).

  • Massive reductions in triglycerides:

    Triglycerides are one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Carbohydrate restriction leads to lower triglyceride levels (4).

  • Keto helps manage brain-related diseases and illnesses:

    Ketogenic diets can be therapeutic for a variety of brain conditions, whether severe chronic diseases or mild problems.

    Research shows that being in ketosis has potential benefits for brain tumor cases, depression, epilepsy, and migraines (5, 6).

  • Significant increase in HDL levels:

    Lower intake of carbohydrate combined with higher fat consumption tends to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels.

    Cardiovascular researchers accept that higher HDL levels are protective against heart disease (7, 8).

  • Picture of a man experiencing weight loss on a ketogenic dietLeads to greater weight loss than other diets:

    In several studies directly comparing low-carb and low-fat diets, diets low in carbohydrate promote more significant weight loss.

    This weight loss is likely due to greater satiety from foods higher in fat and protein (9, 10, 11).

  • May protect against some cancers:

    Cancer cells have a preference for glucose to fuel growth.

    And while they can still grow in carbohydrate-restricted conditions, some studies suggest that ketogenic diets may help prevent/fight certain cancers.

    At present, clinical trials are ongoing (12, 13, 14).

  • Possible benefits for Alzheimer’s disease:

    Further research is necessary, but ketogenic diets may help by supplying the brain with ketones, which it can use for energy.

    Alzheimer’s patients have impaired glucose metabolism, and studies show ketone levels positively correlate with memory performance and cognition (15, 16).

  • Reduction in blood pressure:

    High blood pressure (hypertension) is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke.

    Conventional advice may over-estimate the impact of salt, and excessive refined carbohydrate intake has a larger effect on blood pressure than sodium.

    Ketogenic diets naturally reduce refined carb consumption, and many following such diets experience a decrease in blood pressure (17, 18).

  • It’s enjoyable, and it’s sustainable:

    And this last one’s pretty obvious. What sounds more appealing to you: low-fat crackers, skim milk, and a fat-trimmed chicken breast? Or steak, cheese, and some dark chocolate?

Key Point: Ketogenic diets have a lot of potential health benefits, but we shouldn’t claim them to be a cure-all solution. Keto is also very sustainable because most of the food tastes delicious.

What Foods Can I Eat on Keto?

The first thing to remember is that despite having a ‘restrictive’ reputation, there are many things that you can eat on keto.

Want to put a ketogenic diet shopping list together? Then here are some tables showing a list of suitable foods.

Dairy Foods

Milk contains too many sugars in the form of lactose, but aside from that most dairy foods are ideal.

Butter Cheese
Clotted Cream Cottage cheese
Cream Creme cheese
Creme fraiche Ghee
Quark Sour cream
Whipped cream Yogurt

Eggs, Meat, and Poultry

You can include all meat and poultry in a keto plan– preferably a wide variety of cuts, including bone-in meats.

Bacon Beef – all cuts
Chicken Duck
Eggs Fermented Meats (prosciutto, salami)
Ham Lamb
Mutton Pork
Turkey Venison and wild game

Fats and Oils

Picture of butter, a fat suitable for ketogenic diets

While any fat is technically suitable for a ketogenic diet, it’s better to avoid industrial vegetable oils.

Here are some healthy fat sources:

Avocado Oil Butter
Coconut Oil Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Ghee Goose Fat
Lard Macadamia Nut Oil
Red Palm Oil Tallow

For more details on dietary fats and their nutritional properties, see here.


There are countless edible fish and here are some of the commonly available ones.

Anchovy* Bream
Carp Catfish*
Cod Flounder
Haddock Halibut
Herring* Mackerel*
Sardines* Salmon*
Swordfish** Tilapia*
Trout* Tuna**

*Best sources of omega-3  **High in both omega-3 and mercury

Fruit (low sugar)

Picture of berries, a low sugar fruit suitable for a ketogenic diet

Since ketogenic diets require carbohydrate intake to be very low, most fruits are unsuitable.

However, there are plenty of low sugar fruits that are perfectly fine in moderation.

Avocado Blackberries
Blueberries Boysenberries
Coconut Cranberries
Lemon Lime
Olives Raspberry
Rhubarb Salmonberry
Strawberry Tomato

There are also many different types of berries which are okay in moderation; you can see 20 berries and their nutritional data here.


Picture of nuts - which nuts are suitable for a ketogenic diet?

Most nuts are great for a ketogenic diet, but cashews, chestnuts, and pistachios are too high in carbohydrate.

Nuts are very energy-dense, so a handful should be enough (1 ounce/28grams)

Here are the best low-carb choices:

Almonds Brazil Nuts
Hazelnuts Macadamia
Peanuts Pecan
Pine Nuts Walnuts


Personally, I’m not a fan, but seeds are also a reasonably nutritious option for keto diets.

Aim for about a handful / 1 ounce / 28 grams.

Chia Seeds Flaxseeds
Hemp Seeds Pumpkin Seeds
Sesame Seeds Sunflower Seeds

Shellfish and Seafood

Picture of an oyster - shellfish and seafood for a ketogenic diet

Abalone Clams
Cockles Crab
Eel Lobster
Mussels Oysters
Shrimp Scallops
Sea Squirt Squid

Vegetables Suitable For Keto

Generally speaking, lower carb veggies should be the focus: cruciferous veg and leafy greens.

The plants that grow above ground have the lowest carb count, while vegetables growing underground tend to have more.

However, a small amount of below ground vegetables should be okay if you factor them into your total carb count.

Artichoke Asparagus
Beet Greens Bell Peppers
Bok Choy Brocolli
Brussels Sprouts Cabbage
Cauliflower Celery
Chives Cucumber
Eggplant Green Beans
Green Onion Kale
Kohlrabi Leek
Lettuce Mushrooms
Radish Red Cabbage
Rutabaga Seaweed
Spaghetti Squash Spinach
Swiss Chard Tomato
Turnip Zucchini

For detailed information on 20 different vegetables and their nutrients, see here.

Key Point: As shown above, ketogenic diets might restrict some foods — but there is still a great deal of choice.

Ketogenic Diet Snack Ideas

Snack Ideas For a Ketogenic Diet

In addition to the above food groups, there are a number of convenient snacks which are suitable for ketogenic diets.

Here’s a list to give you a few ideas:

  • Berries and cream: Your choice of berries in a bowl with some heavy cream.
  • Boiled eggs: If you have any feelings of hunger, a few boiled eggs does a great thing for satiety.
  • Celery with cream cheese: Spread some cream cheese on a few stalks of celery for some nutrients and fat-soluble vitamins.
  • Cheese and Prosciutto: If you’re craving some finger-food, then cheese and prosciutto is an excellent option. Add a glass of red wine if you like.
  • Dark chocolate: 85% minimum.
  • Guacamole salad: Mash some guacamole and add in your ingredients of choice.
  • Keto milkshake: blend some coconut milk alongside some cacao and a natural (ish) sweetener such as erythritol. Another good option is to use fresh berries for a fruit milkshake.
  • Mozzarella sticks: The website ‘Healthful Pursuit’ has some delicious looking mozzarella sticks made with almond flour.
Key Point: A ketogenic diet doesn’t only mean meat and vegetables. There are also dozens of tasty keto snacks you can make.

Foods to Avoid on Keto

Picture of cookies - a food to avoid on keto

Due to the nature of the ketogenic diet, carbohydrate content in food should be low — ideally below about 5% or so.

Therefore, you need to restrict grains, starches, sugars and high-carb plant foods.

Below you can see a list of foods to avoid if you want to achieve ketosis:

  • Beer
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Cereals
  • Dried fruit (a slight amount is OK, but best avoided)
  • Fruits high in carbs (banana, mango, papaya, etc.)
  • Fruit juice
  • Grains (bread, oats, pasta, rice, etc.)
  • Legumes
  • Low-fat processed foods
  • Milk (a very small amount is OK)
  • Sugary foods in general
  • Sweet wines/sugary alcohol in general
  • Tubers such as parsnips, potatoes, and sweet potatoes

And these foods are technically ‘ketogenic,’ but it’s better to avoid them for health:

  • Low-carb processed foods: they may be low-carb, but they’re usually full of additives.
  • Margarine
  • Vegetable oils

Not ready to give up alcohol?

If you like drinking from time to time, then that is no problem – there are many low carb alcohol drinks out there.

Spirits and dry red wine are two of the best choices, and you can see a full guide on the topic here.

Keto versions of high-carb foods

While it’s better to stick with nutrient-dense foods like meat, fish, and vegetables, many people like a treat from time to time.

And if you want to be ‘keto’ yet still have a pizza, some bread, or even a piece of cake – it’s possible.

There are many delicious low-carb recipes available for all of these things, and there are hundreds on Pinterest.

Here is a range of them:

Keto bread        Low carb pizza        Low carb cakes

Ketogenic Diet Meal Plan

Not sure on how you can eat keto style?

Then here are some breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas for every day of the week.

Picture of bacon and eggs - a common keto breakfastKeto Breakfasts

  • Bacon and Eggs: Several slices of bacon, some fried eggs, mushrooms, and a grilled tomato.
  • Mackerel: A baked or steamed fillet of mackerel with some leafy greens sauteed in butter.
  • Crustless Quiche: A crustless quiche recipe is an easy breakfast that also tastes delicious. Bacon and cheese make a great flavor combination.
  • Omelet: A cheese and vegetable omelet using your favorite veggies.
  • Boiled Eggs: Several boiled eggs, some cheese, and an avocado.
  • Scrambled Eggs: Scrambled eggs with some meat and veggies of your choice.

Picture of chicken soup - a possible keto lunchKeto Lunch

  • Chicken Salad: Diced chicken, salad greens, cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Finger Food: A handful of nuts, slices of cheese, and some berries.
  • Cloud Bread Sandwich: A ham, cheese, and salad cloud bread roll.
  • Chicken Soup: Chicken, stock, some cream, pepper, salt, and mushrooms. And if you want to eat it hot in the office, then it’s possible if you use a mini portable oven.
  • Zoodle Carbonara: First, you need some zoodles, and then add cream, ham, egg, and seasonings. Tastes better warm!
  • Beef and Tomato Soup: Simmer beef, onion, diced tomatoes, mushrooms, and herbs of your choice for about 1 hour. This meal can be reheated later if eating away from home.
  • Low Carb Sushi Roll: Instead of using rice in the nori wraps, use cream cheese instead. Then add some sashimi of your choice (salmon tastes good!).

Picture of a keto dinner - meat and vegKeto Dinner

  • Pork Chops: A pork chop cooked with onion and garlic, and some buttered asparagus.
  • Cream Salmon: A fillet salmon covered in coconut cream cheese sauce, with some broccoli and mushrooms.
  • Steak: A piece of steak with mushrooms, garlic, and green beans.
  • Frittata: A cheese, mushroom and vegetable frittata.
  • Sausages: Some (real meat) sausages, alongside some mashed rutabaga with butter and sauteed garlic and onions.
  • Chicken Curry: Curries are a great meal for ketogenic diets because they are mainly fat and protein. All you have to do is skip the rice.
  • Low Carb Pizza: Make a fathead pizza; it tastes great, and it’s reasonably healthy.

Keto Friendly Restaurants

For keto on the go, then look for any meat-based restaurants.

A steak or piece of meat/fish along with some vegetables is suitable for a ketogenic diet, and you can find restaurants offering this up almost everywhere.

Keto Fast Food

For some fast food choices that are relatively healthy and compatible with keto, see here.

Possible Dangers of Ketogenic Diets

Picture showing a dizzy girl - a possible danger of ketogenic diets

There are two possible things to mention here, and these are ketoacidosis and hypoglycemia.


Firstly, there is a lot of fearmongering about ketoacidosis and ketogenic diets.

Generally, this comes from people who don’t know the difference between ‘ketosis’ and ‘ketoacidosis.’

As previously mentioned, ketosis is a natural state in which the body starts to burn ketones (fats) for energy instead of glucose.

In contrast, ketoacidosis is a potentially life-threatening condition when the body doesn’t make enough insulin and ketone levels become abnormally high.

However, in low carb diets, the production of ketones is “regulated, controlled, and harmless” (19).

The condition is otherwise known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), and usually, results from poor management of type 1 diabetes which can lead to dangerous ketone levels (20).

It’s very unlikely for a healthy person who produces sufficient insulin to experience ketoacidosis (19).

However, if you suffer from diabetes then always consult your doctor and conduct thorough research before a dietary change.

Picture of a dizzy man - ketogenic diet side effectsHypoglycemia

When first beginning a ketogenic diet, experiencing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is a possibility.

With this in mind, it’s important to know exactly why it occurs and how to avoid it:

  • Hypoglycemia happens when blood sugar levels drop to extremely low concentrations (approx: <70mg/dl) and it can cause fatigue, lightheadedness, and dizziness (21).
  • It can occur when suddenly going from a high-carbohydrate diet to very low carb (22)
  • One reason is because of a huge drop in blood sugar levels in people who are used to having higher blood sugar.
  • Hypoglycemia is a lot more common in people with diabetes or a certain degree of insulin resistance (23).

The Solution

While some suggest the solution is to raise blood sugar by eating some sugary food, I think that is ill-advised.

Here’s why:

  • As hypoglycemia usually occurs from high to low blood sugar swings, then all this does is make your blood sugar high again. And then the cycle continues.
  • The key to getting past this is to reduce high blood sugar permanently, and a ketogenic diet can help in this regard.

In the initial stages of a ketogenic diet, it may be helpful to eat regularly rather than fasting for extended periods of time.

Hypoglycemia can be dangerous, so if you are experiencing it, then it may be worth consulting a low-carb friendly doctor.

And this is especially the case if you have diabetes; for any medical issues, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Key Point: Potentially dangerous conditions such as ketoacidosis and hypoglycemia are possible for diabetics if care isn’t taken. People with diabetes should consult a doctor before making large changes to their diet.

Side Effects of Ketosis (and How to Solve Them)

Being in ketosis can also cause several minor side effects, so if you have just started a ketogenic diet then look out for the following:

Picture of a drunk man - keto diet side effectsAlcohol Tolerance

Many people report lower tolerance of alcohol on a ketogenic diet, sometimes dramatically so.

Solution: Firstly, don’t drink too much or on an empty stomach. And if you’re just starting keto, then carefully monitor how you feel when you drink.

Bad Breath

When the body enters ketosis and starts burning fat (ketones), chemicals in the breath such as acetone may cause bad breath (24).

Solution: Waiting; for many people, this bad breath only lasts for the first week or two of a ketogenic diet. While it persists, you can use breath fresheners to hide the scent.


Some people develop constipation on keto. Many people blame a lack of fiber for this, although, in truth, both too little and too much fiber could be an issue depending on the individual.

Solution: First of all, constipation usually isn’t the result of not eating fiber – the cause is usually something you are eating.

For example, many people have sensitivities regarding certain foods such as dairy, eggs, and nuts. Or maybe you are overdoing it on one of these foods.

Either way, if you have recently increased intake of one of these foods, then experiment to see what may be causing the problem.

If you can’t find any dietary reason, then increasing intake of leafy green vegetables may help.

Picture of a woman feeling ill - keto side effectsCramps, Fatigue, Induction Flu, and Low Energy

People new to keto often experience cramps, particularly in the legs and feet. Additionally, many people feel fatigue, tiredness, and low energy.

Solution: These symptoms are usually the result of an electrolyte imbalance, especially concerning magnesium, potassium, and sodium.

Don’t worry because it is common in the early stages of ketosis, due to the body releasing significant amounts of water (and salt) as carbohydrate intake (and insulin) drops.

Make sure you are getting enough of these micronutrients. There are also greater needs for sodium on a ketogenic diet, so increase salt intake by liberally salting your food.

And for the other electrolytes, you can see some magnesium-rich foods here, and foods high in potassium here.

Heart Palpitations

Heart palpitations are another typical side effect in the first few weeks of a ketogenic diet. The palpitations could be due to mild dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance.

Solution: Drinking more water to ensure adequate hydration, and increasing salt, magnesium, and potassium intake usually eases heart palpitations.

However, as the cause can be any number of issues, then see a doctor if you want to make sure. 

Key Point: There are various potential side effects when starting a low-carb diet. Despite this, most are temporary, and you can avoid them through a well-implemented diet with sufficient electrolytes.

Final Thoughts

There’s no perfect way of eating that fits everybody’s lifestyle and personal circumstance.

However, the ketogenic diet is a healthy dietary system that focuses on real, nutrient-dense foods.

But just one caveat:

Due to the potential side effects, make sure you research how to implement a ketogenic diet successfully before you start.

If you follow a well-implemented keto diet, then weight loss, better energy levels, and improved health markers are very common.


12 Things I Wish I Knew When I Found Out Our Son Had Down Syndrome

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since our son was born. It’s true what they say, time really does fly…and even more so when your a parent it seems.

Since Noah’s first birthday falls on a weekday, we decided to wait and have his official birthday party on Saturday to make it easier on Noah’s friends and family to come. (No one likes rushing to a child’s birthday party as soon as they get off work.) But as you can tell from the pictures, and today’s video, he certainly enjoyed his pre-birthday party! Not to mention he’s already had a pre-pre-birthday party! Does this kid know how to party or what?


Our next post will be all about Noah’s first birthday party (and the awesome penguin themed party my wife planned) so today I thought I’d share a few thoughts about raising a child with Down syndrome a year into our journey.


It’s been one fun year!

The day that changed our life.

As I mentioned above, it’s hard to believe it’s been a year since our wonderful pediatrician came into that cold hospital room where we were waiting with excitement to see our little boy and told the news that would forever change our life:

“Your son has features that are consistent with Trisomy 21.”

In other words; Your son has Down syndrome.


We love this little boy!

If you’ve read Noah’s birth story, you know that our son’s Down syndrome diagnosis was a total surprise to us. We had no idea our son had Down syndrome until a few hours after he was born. We thought everything was perfectly normal and they were just giving him the world’s longest bath as we waited for the nurse to bring him to us. It turns out they were actually just trying to reach our pediatrician (it was after-hours) and wait for her to arrive at the hospital so she could be the one to break the news to us; which I describe in more detail here.


I’ll never in my life forget those few minutes when our pediatrician told us Noah had Down syndrome. It was like everything went in slow motion. I couldn’t speak (and if you know me, you know that’s a rare occurrence!) I didn’t know what to think. What to do. What that meant for our son. For our family. For our life. I was scared. In fact it was one of the scariest moments of my entire life. (Little did I know things were about to get a lot more scarier.)

A crash course in parenting…and Down syndrome.


I think he enjoys birthday cake….

There are so many thoughts going through my mind as I write this post one year later. So many things I want to say, but again find myself at a loss for words. I’m overcome with emotion as I reflect on the last year and how our life has changed (in a good way) because of our son Noah. We had a few scares over the last year, learned more about Down syndrome in the last year than most people learn in their life time, and most of all; we’ve had a blast being first time parents!

I mean seriously, I knew I was gong to enjoy being a father, but this is ridiculous. I absolutely love it!


And as for all of those parenting fears I had when Noah was born; they’re long gone. Noah having Down syndrome has just sort of faded into the background of our family. It’s our normal. Noah having Down syndrome is the same as me having green eyes, or two hands. It’s just him. No biggy. In fact the only time I really think about it is when we have to go in for a CBC, those still scare me…but that’s another post for another day. 🙂

There is no parenting time machine


I love that little hand.

I’ve mentioned before there is no such thing as a parenting time machine so I can’t go back in time and tell myself things I wish I knew at the time. It’s impossible. However, maybe I can be that time machine for someone else.

Today on our son’s first birthday I’d like to share a few things I wish I could go back in time and tell myself when we first learned of our son’s Down syndrome diagnosis. If you’re a new parent of a child born with Down syndrome consider this your parenting time machine and that these words are coming from your future self. 🙂 (I’m so strange….)

If you are a new parent I’d also encourage you to check out this post with over 300 suggestions of what to say to someone who has just received a Down syndrome diagnosis; it’s jammed packed with encouragement from other parents raising a child with Down syndrome.


A quick disclaimer: When Noah was born everything I knew about Down syndrome I learned from watching TV, seriously. So remember that these statements are from the perspective of a total rookie to the Down syndrome world. Like I mentioned before I know much more now than a year ago. 🙂 Also I was going to go into detail on each of these statements, but the post is already pretty long as is. If you have any questions on what I meant by any of them please be sure to leave a comment and I’ll elaborate.

12 Things I wish I knew the day our son received a Down syndrome diagnosis

1. Noah being born with Down syndrome doesn’t mean he’s sick or unhealthy.

2. Noah’s not going to be a vegetable. In fact, far from it.

3. Noah’s going to laugh and play just like every other kid.

4. Noah shares more things in common with a child without Down syndrome than differences.

5. In a few weeks your son having Down syndrome won’t be a big deal.

6. You’re going to have the ability to make a huge impact in the world.

7. You’re going to have so much fun with your son. In fact, you’re going to have even more fun than you ever imagined!

8. You aren’t alone.

9. You didn’t just exchange a happy story for a sad one.

10. Other people’s stories aren’t your stories.

11. Stay off internet.

12. You and your family are going to be just fine.

Whew….that’s a mouth full, huh? (See, I told you I’m not normally short on words!) 🙂

There are so many more things I could say about each of those statements, but I think you get the idea.

If I could just say one thing…

In fact, if I could go back in time and just tell myself one thing when I first learned Noah had Down syndrome (which would pretty much just be a summary of all of the above) it would be:

Rick, things are going to be just fine, trust me. This next year is going to be the best year of your life. I know it doesn’t feel that way now, but trust me on this one!

And today, one year later, on my son’s first birthday, I can confirm 100% that the above statement is true. This year truly has been the best year of my life. There are no words to describe how much I love my son and how much joy he brings to our life.


I love this kid!

I love every second of being this little boy’s dad!



Kind of Autism No One Talks About This

Like most parents of children with autism, I have been reading about the family in California who is being sued by several families in their neighborhood. The lawsuit contends that their child is a public nuisance because of his behaviors that his parents failed to fix.

One of the plaintiffs in this case stated “This is not about autism. This is about public safety.”

But he is wrong. This is absolutely about autism. It’s just not about the autism people hear about.

The media shows us all of the feel-good stories, like the child with autism who gets to be the manager of the high school basketball team, or the boy with autism who goes to the prom with the beautiful girl, or the girl with autism who is voted onto the homecoming court. We light it up blue every April and pat ourselves on the back for being so aware.

But we aren’t aware.

Because for every boy with autism who manages his high school basketball team, there are 20 boys with autism who smear feces. And for every girl with autism who gets to be on the homecoming court, there are 30 girls with autism who pull out their hair and bite their arms until they bleed. And for every boy with autism who gets to go the prom, there are 50 boys with autism who hit and kick and bite and hurt other people.

This is the autism that no one talks about. This is the autism that no one wants to see.

We aren’t aware.

One of the plaintiffs said “We’re not upset about him being autistic. We are concerned and upset about his violence (toward) our children.”


There is no way to be upset by this child’s behaviors and not be upset about autism.

Autism and behaviors go hand-in-hand. Why? The behaviors are communication. Individuals with autism often can’t communicate in a way that typically functioning people can understand. So they do things to get their needs met. And often the things they do are scary and violent.

We aren’t aware.

My son, who is the same age as the child in this story, was extremely aggressive when he was younger. He did all of the things that the child involved in this lawsuit did. My son ran after other children on the playground just to push them down. He hit. He kicked. He bit. He pulled hair. And I never knew what was coming. For the longest time, I would flinch when he ran up to me…I didn’t know whether he was going to hug me or hit me. Can you imagine, as a mom, what that’s like? To flinch when your child runs to you?

We aren’t aware.

Because I didn’t know what my son was going to do to other children, we stopped going to the park. We stopped going to the Mommy and Me class at the library. We started going to the grocery store at 6:00 a.m. when most people weren’t around. He didn’t go to daycare but had a sitter at home so he wouldn’t be around other kids in a daycare setting. I essentially isolated him in order to keep other people safe. Can you imagine what it’s like to be a mom and not be able to take your child to the park? Or have your child attend birthday parties? Or have play dates?

We aren’t aware.

Because of my need to isolate my son, I also isolated myself too. I watched from my window as other moms in the neighborhood sat in their camp chairs and chatted while their children played. I couldn’t join them because my son couldn’t be around the other kids. Once a mom asked if my son could come to their house and play with her son. Can you imagine what it was like to feel so excited and then feel so ashamed when, after explaining my son’s issues to her so she would be aware, that invitation was rescinded?

We aren’t aware. Not at all.

But we can be. We can open our eyes and understand that autism isn’t all about the high functioning child who is “quirky” but OK to be around. Autism isn’t all about the six-year-old who can play Piano Man better than Billy Joel. Autism can be hard. Autism can be sad. Autism can be messy. Autism can be violent. Autism can be isolating.

Once we become really aware, lawsuits like this won’t happen. Why? Because instead of putting blue lights on our front porches, we will go outside with our kids and we will help them play together…typically functioning kids and kids with autism. We will get to know our neighbors and we will embrace the children with behaviors and embrace their parents along with them.

We will learn what things trigger our child’s classmate who has autism so that we can help the children interact while avoiding things that will cause aggression. We will be a true village, including those who can model appropriate behaviors and those who are trying so hard to learn them. We will work on teaching our children not to hit and how to avoid being hit.

The parents involved in this lawsuit, on both sides, need to do more. More education, more understanding, more inclusion and more involvement.

Now tell me, is autism the real public nuisance?

We can become aware … if we really want to.

This post originally appeared on


10 Hidden Sign of Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health disorder that generates significant emotional instability. This can lead to a variety of other stressful mental and behavioral problems.
With borderline personality disorder, a person may have a severely distorted self-image and feel worthless and fundamentally flawed. Anger, impulsiveness, and frequent mood swings may push others away, even though they may desire to have loving and lasting relationships.

Image result for 10 hidden sign of borderline personality disorder

If you or someone you know have borderline personality disorder, don’t get discouraged. Many people with this disorder get better with treatment and can live satisfying lives.

signs of borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder affects how a person feels about themselves, how they relate to others, and their behavior.

Signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder may include:

  1. Impulsive and risky behavior, such as risky driving, unsafe love-making, gambling sprees, or illegal drug use
  2. Awareness of destructive behavior, including self-injury, while often feeling unable to change it
  3. Wide mood swings
  4. Short but intense episodes of anxiety or depression
  5. Inappropriate anger and antagonistic behavior, sometimes escalating into physical fights
  6. Difficulty controlling emotions or impulses
  7. Suicidal behavior
  8. Feeling misunderstood, neglected, alone, empty, or hopeless
  9. Fear of being alone
  10. Feelings of self-hate and/or self-loathing

borderline personality

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As with other mental disorders, the causes of borderline personality disorder aren’t fully understood. Experts agree, though that the disorder results from a combination of factors. Factors that seem likely to play a role include:
* Genetics– Some studies of twins and families suggest that personality disorders may be inherited or strongly associated with other mental disorders among family members.
* Environmental factors– Many people with borderline personality disorder have a history of childhood abuse, neglect and separation from caregivers or loved ones.
* Brain abnormalities– Some research has shown changes in certain areas of the brain involved in emotion regulation, impulsivity and aggression. In addition, certain brain chemicals that help regulate mood, such as serotonin, may not function properly.

With borderline personality disorder, a person often has an insecure sense of who they are. Their self-image, self-identity, or sense of self often rapidly changes. They may view themselves as evil or bad, and sometimes may feel as though they don’t exist at all. An unstable self-image often leads to frequent changes in jobs, friendships, goals and values.

Their relationships are usually in turmoil. They may idealize someone one moment and then abruptly and dramatically shift to fury and hate over perceived slights or even minor misunderstandings. This is because people with borderline personality disorder often have difficulty accepting gray areas — things seem to be either black or white.

If you’re aware that you have any of the signs or symptoms above, talk to your doctor or a mental health provider. Proper treatment can help you feel better about yourself and help you live a more stable, rewarding life.

If you notice signs or symptoms in a family member or friend, talk to that person about seeing a doctor or mental health provider. Remember you can’t force someone to seek help. If the relationship causes you significant stress, you may find it helpful to see a therapist yourself.



A Mother’s Womb: The Most Dangerous Place In The World For A Baby With Down Syndrome

sanctity of life sunday

Most kids known to have Down syndrome in their mother’s womb don’t make it out alive. I’m thankful ours did.

The third Sunday of January is National Sanctity of Human Life Day and since that happens to be today I thought I’d share a few things that constantly weigh heavy on my heart.

A Reminder Of Brokenness

This website and our other social media channels have a wide reach and we regularly receive messages from people all over the world. Most of these messages are overwhelmingly positive and give us great encouragement. But every once in a while we receive a message that reminds us that our world is deeply broken and in desperate need of repair it. Here’s an example of one of those messages that we received just yesterday:

I wouldn’t want the burden of having a child with Down Syndrome. I would have terminated the pregnancy.

Sadly, this isn’t just the opinion of the person who sent me this message. In fact, 92% of children with Down syndrome are aborted (yes, 92%!) This means every time you see one Noah (my son) there’s 9 Noah’s you don’t see as a result of people not wanting the burden.

In other words, if you’re a baby with Down syndrome, your mothers womb is a very dangerous place for you.

And it breaks my heart.

down syndrome sonogram ultrasound

“Get me out of here QUICK!’ – Every kid with Down Syndrome, ever.

My Son Wants To Ride A Dinosaur…Not Become One.

down syndrome abortion stats

“Yo, we don’t want to be extinct. We sort of like living.”

My friend Gabe Lyons notes, “people with Down syndrome have been targeted for extinction.” Our culture has become obsessed with making it easier and easier to detect if a child has Down syndrome in the womb so parents can murder their child make an informed decision. 


Even after a child’s birth this discrimination and blatant disregard for human life continues. In Noah’s birth story we shared how our OB’s first words to us were,

I’m so sorry.

followed by,

I’m going to prescribe you some antidepressants.

to which we politely declined. :)

Our culture reminds me almost every day that it’s on a mission to exterminate everyone who they deem a burden, or less than worthy of life.

So What Do We Do?

I don’t have all of the answers. In fact, I have no answers. But I have a few ideas…..

1. Pray

Every since man first decided to trust their way over God’s our world has been going down hill. The Bible is clear that our world isn’t getting better, in fact quite the opposite. There are some problems that are so big that our best efforts to change them will never be enough.

The good news that we have access to The One who created the world and all that’s in it. When we reach the end of our gifts, talents, abilities, and creativity that’s where the true power begins.

In other words…

Prayer changes things. We should pray often for God to protect these little children in the womb, and that He would change the hearts of our culture to view all people as worthy of life, and recognize that all people are created in the image of God (in the womb or out….Down syndrome or no Down syndrome.)

2. Be Kind

Mean people rarely change the world (for the better.) Enough said.

3. Tell Your Story

If a tree falls in the woods…..

Stories have power….but only if they’re shared. The internet is a powerful place, and these days we all have access to a global audience. If you have a child with Down syndrome (or other special needfind a way to tell your story. You are your child’s biggest advocate. You have to find a way to help the world understand that your child has more in common with a typical child than people think.

Start a blog. A Facebook page, twitter account, heck,  Call up your local college and offer to come speak to a class about your family’s story. The possibilities are endless and every family had a different way of telling their story.

Different is ok. Being silent isn’t. So share your story…as often as you can.

Oh, and just in case you think God doesn’t use stories to change lives, here’s a quote from another message I recently received:

“I just got the phone call last night that my blood work was abnormal and my child may possibly have Down’s Syndrome. After the initial shock and confusion I buried myself in research looking for more info and a better perspective on what this could possibly mean. While my first thought was to abort if DS was confirmed all that has changed thanks to your story and others like yours.”

That little kid’s life is forever changed. All because of a story. Look for ways to share yours today.

5. Constantly Reflect On Your Own “Burden-ness.”

Never forget that you were once someone’s ‘burden’ (who knows, maybe you still are!) :) Let’s be honest for a second, all of our lives are train wrecks in some way. We all have flaws. Issues. Hang ups. We’ve all caused our parents headaches and heartaches at some point in our life.

People aren’t burdens. People are gifts from God. Created in His image for a purpose. Every. single. person. on. this. planet… the womb, or out. Let me say it again, this time read it slowly.

Every person on this plant is a gift from God, created in His image for a great purpose.

Only 1 out of 10 kids with Down syndrome make it out of their mother’s womb alive which make a mother’s womb a very dangerous place for a baby with Down syndrome. Thankfully our son was one of the lucky ones. So was Cade. And Seth. And Julian. And Ellie. And all of these kids. And these.

My great prayer is that God will change the hearts of our culture. That our culture will come to understand the value of human life (even little bitty lives.) That more children like my son will be brought to full term. That we will stop aborting children in the womb for any reason…especially simply because they have an extra 21st chromosome.



New ‘second skin’ could zap wrinkles, ease eczema

There’s new hope for combatting the sags, bags, and wrinkles brought on by time. Today, researchers report that they’ve created a cream that—when rubbed on the skin—forms a transparent, flexible polymer film that restores aging skin’s youthful and elastic properties. Each application of the so-called “second skin” lasts for a day or more, and it can dramatically reduce bags under the eyes and help dry skin retain moisture, at least temporarily. Down the road, it could also help treat a wide variety of skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, bringing relief to millions.

Image result for new second skin could zap wrinkles ease eczema

“This has huge potential,” says Suzanne Kilmer, a dermatologist at the University of California, Davis. Kilmer notes that people with eczema and other skin conditions often wrap their skin with bulky bandages or even clear plastic wrap to ensure that their medication doesn’t wipe off. “Instead of patients having to wear all that stuff, they could use this invisible film,” she says.

Our skin is subject to a wide variety of insults, from the sun’s ultraviolet rays to cuts, scratches, diseases, and—of course—the assaults of time. Youthful skin is typically highly elastic, allowing it to snap back into place if pinched or flexed. That’s partly because of a web of protein filaments in the skin that act like rubber bands to pull it into its normal shape. However, these filaments break down over time, and they aren’t replaced as quickly in elderly skin as in youthful skin, says Barbara Gilchrest, a dermatologist with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, who was part of the new study. The result is the sagging skin and wrinkles of old age.

For people dealing with eczema and psoriasis, rashes and dry skin can be so severe that they can’t sleep at night, says R. Rox Anderson, an MGH dermatologist who also worked on the current study. According to Anderson about 20% of children and 10% of adults in the United States suffer from eczema.

To treat these and other skin conditions, Anderson and Gilchrest have long teamed up with Robert Langer, a materials scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Their goal was to create a product that would restore skin’s youthful elasticity, yet be transparent and flexible. They created their first “second skin” of a silicon-polymer gel activated by a second gel, and marketed it as a way to temporarily reduce under-eye bags. But the combo, sold by a firm called Living Proof, was criticized for being too costly ($500 for a 7-week supply) and for peeling off after only 5 hours.

So Langer and his team went back to the lab. They kept the same goal, and they stuck with similar starting materials: silicon-based polymers called siloxanes, regularly used in cosmetics and widely regarded as safe. But Langer and his colleagues changed numerous components. They varied everything from the length of individual molecular chains to the makeup of chemical groups called crosslinkers that bind separate chains to one another as the gel transforms into a thin polymer film. Langer says he and his colleagues tested hundreds of different formulations. In the end, they came up with a platform that allow them to systematically change the film’s thickness, breathability, flexibility, and durability, in an effort to target different cosmetic and medical uses.

As with the previous film-forming material, users apply the new film in two steps. First, the siloxane gel is rubbed on the skin. Then, a second gel, which contains a platinum catalyst, is rubbed on top, causing the crosslinking groups to bind to one another and form a continuous film.

As the film dries, it shrinks by as much as 10%, depending upon the exact formulation. Anderson, Gilchrest, and colleagues tested their cosmetic formulation on 12 volunteers. After they applied the two gel layers on the skin under subjects’ eyes, the films shrank, pulling the skin taut. As they report today in Nature Materials, the films reduced the presence of eye bags up to 40% for 24 hours, compared with control tests with only the first gel. They devised a 1-to-5 scale that measured how prominent the eye bags were, and found in volunteers that the film reduced it by 2 points on the scale. Tests also showed that after 24 hours the film reduced skin water loss by 23% by acting as a barrier to protect dry skin. By comparison, petroleum jelly and a commercial moisturizer also reduced water loss, but only for a couple hours. Even though it has not yet been tested for eczema, psoriasis, and other debilitating skin conditions, Gilchrest says she is hopeful that it might one day offer relief to patients with such conditions. Simply giving damaged skin another protective layer could help those patients, Gilchrest says. But future versions could also come loaded with medicines designed to be slowly released over time, she says. Anderson and Langer are already getting started: They have launched a new company, Olivo Labs, to pursue those medical uses.



How a Plant Based Diet Reversed My Asthma and Eczema

From Meds to Marathons: How Eating Whole Plants Reversed My Asthma and Eczema

Imagine an active eight-year-old boy playing baseball, basketball, and tennis …  going nonstop. Now, imagine that same boy hindered with difficulty breathing ― something most of us take for granted.

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That was me, diagnosed with asthma and immediately put on all types of medication. The meds made me feel jittery and not “right.” I tried my best to not let the asthma or drugs slow me down, but it was difficult. In college, I was placed on “better” medications and given a “rescue” inhaler, which I used consistently. In addition, a severe case of eczema developed on many parts of my body. Many trips to the doctor and expensive lotions didn’t help.

Still active, I took up running but could go for only a few miles at a time. Inspired by a coworker, I decided to train for a marathon and in 2008 completed it with a time of 3:51:17. I got the “running bug” and began to train more seriously.

In addition, I started studying nutrition and paying close attention to what was working best for my performance and recovery. After reading an article about eliminating red meat from my diet, I tried it, and gradually moved to a vegetarian diet. In 2011, I saw a trailer for the Forks Over Knives documentary and knew I had to see it. One day, in the middle of the workday, I checked the movie listings and saw that it was playing in my area. At that moment I felt compelled to see the movie and dropped everything that afternoon to do so.

After seeing Forks Over Knives, I decided to try the plant-based diet approach. Within a short period of time, I noticed my asthma and eczema symptoms were not as prevalent as they had been. Working with my allergist and nutritionist, I reduced the medication and eventually stopped taking medications altogether. For 33 years I had taken medication every day ― this was a life transforming event for me!

And, while this was all going on, I continued to train and run marathons. After moving to a plant-based diet, I noticed my performance and recovery times improved significantly, and I was able to reach one of my goals: qualifying for the Boston Marathon. To date, I’ve run 14 marathons and qualified for four Boston Marathons, running in two of them (including 2013, where I finished ahead of the bombing).

The NBC affiliate in Detroit has a health segment and featured my story earlier this year. I’ve never been more active or felt better. Each day I’m amazed that I no longer take medication and that my eczema is completely gone!


Portrait of sad girl with mother in background at home

Oppositional Defiance Disorder or Faulty Neuroception?

Over the years I have come to believe that oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is not a label that should be used to describe young children. As a developmental psychologist, I view oppositional defiance as a child’s response to stress. Viewing children’s challenging behaviors on a continuum of stress and stress recovery reveals a whole new way to think about this stigmatizing disorder, as well as a new way to support children, informed by neuroscience.

Portrait of sad girl with mother in background at home

Consider the case of Timmy, an 8 year-old boy in the foster care system, who was diagnosed with ODD when he was four years old. His numerous behavioral treatment plans seldom improved his oppositional behaviors. Prone to constantly disagree, run away and hit others, the child had been placed in three different foster homes in a single year. At school, after he found out that a beloved PE teacher was suddenly transferred, he refused all class work and eventually threw over his desk, frantic, when the teacher asked him to line up for lunch.

Oppositional defiance? Hardly. The child was in a stress response due to challenges in his neuroception, the automatic and subconscious detection of threat, described by pre-eminent neuroscientist Stephen Porges, Ph.D.

Neuroception is the brain’s ability to detect danger. It’s how we distinguish whether situations or people are safe or threatening. Porges believes that faulty neuroception is at the root of many psychiatric disorders, including ODD. For many vulnerable children, neuroception is biased towards detecting danger when there is no real danger.  Faulty neuroception shifts the child involuntarily into a defensive position, resulting in a variety of challenging behaviors. This can result from a host of causes (but not limited to) constitutional; genetic or brain wiring differences; biomedical issues; environmental stress; or sensory processing challenges, which cause a child to perceive ordinary sensations as threatening.

It is essential to determine the exact cause on an individual basis. The sources of faulty neuroception are wide- ranging and depend on each child’s individual differences.  In order to help children, we need to provide the proper support to address the cause, rather than simply applying behavioral management techniques in isolation.

Currently, our most vulnerable oppositional and defiant children are generally managed with plans that work on eliminating unwanted behaviors, rewarding desired behaviors, or withholding treasured objects or experiences (such as screen time) as consequences to those behaviors. These techniques are often ineffective because they are based on a faulty premise: that the child has intentional control over those behaviors. If faulty neuroception is to blame, however, behaviors will be a reflection of an immediate, “fight or flight” response and not purposeful misbehavior. In such cases, punishment can potentially cause more distress, triggering additional feelings of threat rather than safety.

It will benefit all children when mental health and social service systems recognize faulty neuroception as an underlying commonality of many psychiatric disorders. This shift will help providers and caregivers move beyond current, often ineffective strategies for treating conditions such as oppositional defiance. Treatment techniques such as ignoring and withholding attention or desired objects are inappropriate when a child’s brain is experiencing the message that he is not safe.

As the first priority in treatment, we need to turn instead to the foundation of mental health for all human beings: nurturing relationships that consistently provide the healing messages of safety.  Working with qualified professionals, it is possible to help children with the most challenging behaviors.  Effective and long-lasting ways to help our most vulnerable children thrive should:

  1. Build or rebuild a sense of connection with trusted caregivers

All children, regardless of age, need consistent attention to their emotional and physical needs. This includes loving attention when they distress and the consistent support of an adult who will understand when challenging behaviors are a sign of faulty neuroception.

  1. Discover each child’s vulnerabilities and individual differences

Some children have unique characteristics that make calming more difficult including over or under- reactivity to touch, sound smell, movement, emotions, experiences of trauma, etc. Understanding each child’s individual differences and history will provide a roadmap to supporting a neuroception of safety.

  1. Help the child signal when he needs help and feels vulnerable

Oppositional defiance is often a reaction to feeling small, helpless and out of control. Encourage each child’s ability to signal (verbally or non –verbally) that he is beginning to feel uncomfortable or anxious.

  1. Provide the correct support for each child

Determine the best way to help children feel calm. Each child is different, so try a variety of methods to see what she enjoys. Play, cuddle, dance, sing, and try to figure out what brings the child joy. This will allow spontaneous social engagement behaviors to emerge that will support connectedness and biobehavioral co-regulation, resulting in her body and mind calming down and feeling safe.

Let’s move beyond the categorical checklists that describe symptoms in the absence of their causes, and view oppositional defiance in a way that respects the complexity of the human brain and the adaptations human beings make to feel safe in a world that often feels threatening. All children will benefit from this important shift in our understanding of oppositional defiance.

*Immense appreciation to Dr. Porges for reviewing this post and for his groundbreaking work.



‘IT FEELS LIKE LOVE’S DREAM’ The heartwarming story of the couple who both have Down’s Syndrome

the couple who both have Down’s Syndrome, met at college and are now blissfully married

Newlywed Polly Gibson told BBC Radio 5 Live that her wedding to husband Joe Minogue felt like “love’s dream”.

Polly and Joe, who both have Down syndrome, have shared photos of their unicorn themed wedding day
Moving and romantic story of Polly and Joe who have Down’s Syndrome

The happy couple wed in a ceremony attended by 200 guests in 2016.

Their nuptials featured a unicorn throne and singing waiters – as well as a spectacular three-tiered sprinkle cake.

Polly added: “It feels like love’s dream. The best thing in the whole wide world.”

Newlywed Polly Gibson told BBC Radio 5 Live that her wedding to husband Joe Minogue was the “best thing in the whole wide world”

Polly and Joe met eight years ago when they were both young students at college in Sussex.

The loved-up duo said that their attraction was instant and last May they made things official by tying the knot.

Polly told Rocknroll Bride that she and Joe wanted their wedding to have a ‘festival’ vibe and with the help of family and friends they pulled of their dream wedding.

The pair had a beautiful festival themed wedding in May 2016

The pair had a beautiful festival themed wedding in May 2016

Tables were strewn with bunches of brightly coloured wild flowers, while bunting hung from the sides of the reception marquee at Brewerstreet Farmhouse in Surrey.

The venue was also filled with a plethora of pink and blue helium balloons and their waiters sang Ratpack tunes.

Polly added: “It would be wonderful if our story could touch the lives of others struggling to cope with any kind of disability or inequality.

“The greatest thing is to love and be loved in return.”