Charlotte, or Lottie as we call her was born a fighter. From the emergency C-section at birth, to choosing her own pajamas at night, and insisting on a specific fork color to eat with, Lottie is a beautiful, strong willed, loving sister who is perfect to help Gabe navigate through life. Kristie and I have talked a lot about sibling relationships as our family continues to grow. We have read articles that say it can be too much pressure on a typical child or they’ll be resentful of their sibling with Down syndrome if you force or expect your typical children to take care of your child with special needs. Well, honestly, we are raising our children with an understanding of the importance of family. We want our kids to want to protect Gabe, advocate for him, and help him when he is older. It will feel as if we’ve failed as parents if our children don’t want to help Gabe when he’s older. Lottie is just awesome and so incredibly smart. Lottie is 14 months younger than Gabe and is his “big little sister,” his best friend, and will be one of his strongest advocates. When Gabe was 25 months old and Lottie was 11 months old, the four of us (Mom, Dad, Gabe, and Lottie) were playing on the floor in our living room one evening, when suddenly Lottie stood up with a big smile on her face and took a few steps toward Mommy. Kristie and I instantly went crazy, clapping and dancing with excitement for our little girl to be walking. It was a beautiful and incredible moment, suddenly our little girl was walking! Within 20 minutes, Gabe stood up and took a few steps toward Mommy as well. Kristie instantly started to cry and we were overwhelmed with emotion. Now, both of our babies were walking! It just clicked with Gabe, once he saw Lottie start to walk and saw our celebration for her, it was as if Gabe thought, “I should start walking like Lottie.” If you have recently had a child with Down syndrome and they are your first born, I strongly encourage you to have another child as soon as possible if you can. Their sibling will be their strongest advocate, greatest teacher, best friend, and better for your child’s development than any therapy your child will ever receive. Lottie is and will continue to grow up to be a wonderful and amazing young lady. Lottie is Gabe’s guardian and defender, a warrior on the front lines always protecting her brother. I’m so thankful for Lottie and her strength and her incredible independence. Lottie won’t let us help her with anything until she tries it first herself always stating, “I do” or “Lottie do.” Lottie’s birthright is to be Gabe’s advocate, it is what Lottie was born to do and her personality compliments Gabe’s so perfectly. Gabe is Lottie’s big brother, but Lottie is the one who runs things around here. Lottie already shows such an advanced understanding of the world, the way she explains and teaches Gabe is astonishing. Lottie doesn’t know anything about Down syndrome yet, she only knows Gabe the way he is. Lottie still takes toys from Gabe and there’s the normal sibling quarrels, but she is so patient and loving with him and it’s as if she already knows Gabe needs a little extra help or extra time with things. Lottie’s level of attention to detail is amazing and her overwhelming natural ability to watch over and be conscious of Gabe is adorable. I cannot stress enough the positive impact Lottie has made on Gabe’s life. It truly has been incredible. If there is one thing I believe you can do as a parent of a child with Down syndrome, if you are able to, give them a closely aged sibling to help them navigate the world. This will help exponentially for the development of your children and family.