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Sarah Palin On Ups And Downs Of Son’s Disability


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In an essay in this week’s Newsweek magazine, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin writes about the joys and challenges of raising a child with special needs.

As her son Trig nears 4-years-old, Palin says that coming to terms with his Down syndrome diagnosis was a process.

“When I discovered early in my pregnancy that my baby would be born with an extra chromosome, the diagnosis of Down syndrome frightened me so much that I dared not discuss my pregnancy for many months,” Palin writes.

But despite all of her fears, she says her family now feels blessed to have Trig in their lives.

“Many everyday activities like doctor’s appointments and social gatherings and travel accommodations and even mealtimes and a solid night of sleep are that much more difficult, but at the end of the day I wouldn’t trade the relative difficulties for any convenience or absence of fear,” Palin continues. “We went from fear of the unknown to proudly displaying a bumper sticker sent to us that reads: ‘My kid has more chromosomes than your kid!'”

Despite losing her bid for the vice presidency in 2008 and declining to pursue the presidency this year, the one-time governor of Alaska has remained a polarizing political figure. She weighs in frequently on Facebook and Twitter and offers up her views as a Fox News commentator.

Palin acknowledged in her Newsweek essay that balancing family and career have been tough, and having a child with a disability can exacerbate that effort.

She wrote that she empathized with former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s recent decision to take a break from the presidential campaign trail when his 3-year-old daughter with special needs fell ill.

“It’s a sacrifice every parent and caregiver of a child with special needs sympathizes with,” Palin wrote. “Families of children with special needs are bonded by a shared experience of the joys, challenges, fears and blessings of raising these beautiful children whom we see as perfect in this imperfect world.”

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Comments (22 Responses)

  1. msamericanpatriot says:

    Santorum/Palin 2012!! It is our ONLY chance to get out of the shadows once and for all.

  2. fairlady68 says:

    I think Ms. Palin will find that being a fully focused mother to her children, including Trig, will bring her much more life satisfaction than politics ever could. And maybe a bit more personal maturity as well…

  3. Darklady says:

    I don’t see how anyone can claim this narcissistic “look at me!” piece is about special needs kids, let alone Trig. Once again, the child is just a prop for the publicity seeking mother… who has done nothing for the special needs community.

    Where is any information about Trig’s development? His challenges? His progress? Her concern for him during his multiple surgeries?

    Nowhere. That’s where. It’s all about her and how superior she is to everyone else for having a special needs child whose education she can’t be bothered to invest time, effort, and money into — or, if she has, she can’t be bothered to actually tell anyone about.

    Since Trig was born 4 years ago, she’s donated a total of $1,000 to ONE non profit for special needs children.

    Yeah, she’s a real role model.

    When my 45-year-old undiagnosed MR/DD sister learns a new word I want to tell the press. But Palin? It’s all about her. It’s always about her.

  4. Susanne says:

    I totally agree with Darklady. SP has only herself in mind here. I have a beautiful 23 year old son who has autism and I can talk about him all day, easily. Families of children with special needs also are not bonded as there are so many differnt levels of need in disability that it is hard to bond. This is not a negative comment, it is just the truth. I wonder how many other parents she interacts with who have a child with differing needs? With Down Syndrome? I don’t sympathize with any other parent that has a child with a disability either. I can’t. I do empathiize however. We don’t need sympathy as parents, we need people who understand and care more for the kids then their purses.

  5. margie says:

    I was going to post my thoughts here but Darklady read my mind. It was also crystal clear that Palin sees the situation as another competition, as she describes her bumper sticker. I think I know who is actually missing some brain cells here. Alas, maybe we should be compassionate with her, given her apparent common sense disability.

  6. Brenda says:

    I agree with all the responses so far. IF SARAH P. WISHES TO help people with disabilities or just people with down syndrome she would be at the doors of all these REPUBLICANS who want to cut services to people with disabilities and they blame people with disabilities for needing services!! How Dare she do such an article on a women who has everything when there are single parents struggling to raise a child with a disability only to be told OOPS the wait list is 10,20 yrs long or your $10.00 dollars over income for any services. While her buddies in D.C. KEEP HACKING AWAY AT BENEFITS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES.

  7. moomooswan says:

    How does this article make Sarah Palin a bad guy? We are quick to judge another when we have our own issues. She’s a mother with a special needs child who takes care of her child. I am too and I applaud her. I am certain none of us have enough information to judge her so harshly. She could have rejected Trig like 90% of moms who learn they are carrying a baby with DS. I gracefully say take care of your own and bless others. Even if they don’t share your political, religious or other views and even of they are a public figure. Don’t you think we have enough negativity in our world? Make it a fantastic day!

  8. Brad says:

    The picture accompanying the article appears to show Trig still has Strabismus. My daughter is of similar age and has DS. She had strabismus in both eyes (crossed eyes), and had it corrected. It is important that this be done early so the brain does not program itself to ignore the lazy eye. If someone knows a way to reach the Palins and share this information, regardless of political opinions, etc, I would liek to make sure Trig is getting the care he may need.

  9. DJ Shoaf says:

    Dark Lady says it all. Think of the mothers and fathers out there who day in and day out sacrifice everything for their child with Down syndrome without kudos, or attention from the press, or even enough money to pay for doctor appts. and such. Raising a child with a disability has nothing to do with ego, and everything to do with selfless love. God bless every mother and father who daily care for their child with special needs without so much as a pat on the back from anybody. Your gain is not measurable here and now but your blessings abound in ways unseen.

  10. SaraChaya says:

    I have a son with both DS and ASD. he is 26. He lives with his wonderful friend/caregiver who has not had a salary increase in three years. We are very proud of the progress in living his own life our son has mad after years of struggles with behaviors and education. thank goodness no health issues since young child years.

    Do we know anything about this son of SP – OT/PT/SLP? Eating struggles? Mobility issues? Education?? But we sure know SP’s opinion based on…. what????

  11. justanothermom says:

    It’s only too bad that Newsweek didn’t give equal time/column to another mom (one without a political agenda) to comment on what it’s like to raise a child with Down syndrome. Sort of point, counterpoint.
    Palin has missed many opportunities to raise awareness of the salient issues, the cuts in funding, the lack of adequate medical care. There could have been a tv special on the reality of special needs. But in the end, it’s always been about Sarah Palin, hasn’t it? So very sad.

  12. AJTmom says:

    Wow ladies, way to judge. I know when my child with a disability was 4 years old I wasn’t the most educated about her special needs nor was I the best advocate. Just because someone is well known doesn’t automatically make them a poster child to … anything.
    Brenda, it’s time to wake up and realize Dems and Repubs are the same, and they BOTH have cut services. This is why it is so important to raise our kids (as much as possible) to become smart, independent individuals who don’t have to rely on the govt.

  13. Oneclearvoice says:

    Good for her for being a voice on the challenges of a parent with special needs. My daughter turned 9 today and she properly stated coin names and values! I can build on that and that God (not the Government) for her success.

  14. dlmgraham says:

    Although I’m not a fan of Sarah’s politically, it did bring a chuckle when I read the bumper sticker comment. I would LOVE one of those. I want to brag about my little man as much as the parents of kids on the honor roll. :)

  15. Mary Ann Tsourounakis says:

    Like Darklady, I hate the fact the Trig was a prop throughout the entire campaign. Palin needs to get out of her own way!!

  16. Rosella A. Alm says:

    I am a mom of a son with special needs. I have as a role model a mom of ten children who’s last born child is a daughter with DS. All of the other 9 of her offspring have gone to college and are successful in many different fields, from medical to business to spiritual. Her daughter with DS has also gone to college in a specially designed program and has worked in competitive employment for 5 years. ALL of this is due to terrific PARENTING by her mother and father. The young woman, now approaching middle age, has severely compromised lung function, and other health issues. She still attends a karate class for people with disabilities. She remains a woman with high hopes and a lovely spirit. Palin has no idea of the effort this takes to EVEN raise one child to be an honorable person.

  17. Giga says:

    Darklady wrote: “Where is any information about Trig’s development? His challenges? His progress? Her concern for him during his multiple surgeries?…she can’t be bothered to invest time, effort, and money into — or, if she has, she can’t be bothered to actually tell anyone about.”

    And yet we all know that if Palin had described, in depth, her son’s problems, she would be accused of using his condition to “garner sympathy” for herself..

    As for the comment “since Trig was born 4 years ago, she’s donated a total of $1,000 to ONE non profit for special needs children.” I would like to know how DarkLady has knowledge of what Sarah Palin’s personal charitable donations are.

    As for the rest of you who are issuing such sanctimonious judgements against Sarah Palin, my guess is if she was an Obama loving Democrat, you would all have a different view of her.

  18. Btrue2U says:

    OMG! I totally can relate to everything SP says. She is a women under the radar and all along trying to raise a family and coming to terms with a child with DS…and knowing that you wouldn’t have it any other way!
    Darklady and others who have posted negative comments about SP….It’s obviously you don’t like SP. I mean the article we read here was a shorten version of the article in the mag. But I’m going to cut you some slack b/c it’s apparent that you have never been interviewed for an article, etc… So they ask the questions…and you respond. So if you feel like this is all about her…well that’s because they are asking questions about HER. No, I did not vote fore her, but I recently had a baby with DS. He is the love of my life which was a process which took time to get through. Yes, you may hate her or whatever, but try just for once in all your lives….to see the positive. No…don’t exaggerate that previous statement and say I need to be more realistic, b/c I am more of a realist than anything. But just for a moment…quit judging others and just look at what they are saying….not by a microscope but just simply what they said. Try to be more positive…Trust me…life is more enjoyable if you are!

  19. Btrue2U says:

    Sorry, but I had to also add that the level of ignorance is obvious here on these comments….

    Go Giga! Good for you. The point you made about darklady…she doesn’t know what, when, or how much SP has done in the disability sector. And just because she had a child with DS does that mean she has to put all others issues to the side???

    Really? well, I can tell you that she has done more than her fair share, plus…lets see…she was running for office. So if she wasn’t up to your standards and fell short, why don’t you all run for president?? See, she had to address many issues when running for office. 1-economy, 2-social security 3-national debt etc… she couldn’t spend all her time on disabilities….even though she did address the issue. ALSO…like GIGA said….if she did, then everyone would be accusing her of using her son to gain sympathy and numbers. And SUSANNE…I do have sympathy for anyone who has a child with special needs. Maybe your lack of sympathy and empathy needs to be addressed!

  20. Daniel says:

    Gov. Palin is an advocate for PURE (special needs) people and families. Palin is the official ambassador of PURE Ministries. PURE Ministries is a Christian organization that helps churches (the Body of Christ) become more aware of and to better minister to people with special needs and their families. Palin was the keynote speaker at the PURE Celebration in Atlanta, GA on June 29, 2010. The media doesn’t report on everything Palin does. Who knows what else she is involved in or who she donates to. It almost sounds as if some of you are holding her success against her. You have no right to judge her.

  21. Jenni says:

    It is an essay, not an interview, so she can write whatever she wants. What is she supposed to do? Pour out a tale of her son’s health & developmental issues, to an ever-increasingly judgmental audience? I’m not a SP fan, but it was a fairly straightforward essay. She’s a working mom and seems to be recognizing that raising her son wth DS has had it’s own unique challenges and rewards. Maybe she’s just learned the language that most people now use to elevate these children to “special” status. I happen to believe the specialness comes from how we learn to overcome obstacles and use that knowledge to help others and include all kinds of abilities in our lives and communities. Let’s be honest, not all decisions we make are for the direct benefit of our child with a disability. We make tough decisions all the time (that others can hardly imagine are choices) based on all sorts of personal circumstances and resources factors we have little or no control over. Ultimately, all we can do is pray (to a deity or not) that the outcomes are worth the sacrifice. I hope that Trig’s impact on her does eventually affect her public policy decision making (though she has none of that responsibility for now) in a way that helps families, youth and children bound by their disabilities in ways she is not.

  22. Susan says:

    Sarah Palin is human. Never claimed to be perfect.
    Thanks to Sarah Palin for telling the world Trig was a gift from God!
    I was also blessed with such a precious gift and want the world to know he was made perfect!

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