Bryan and I are a part of an amazing community: the Renaissance Festival community. I have been attending Renaissance Festivals since 2000. In these years, I have met many amazing people. About 90% of my friends are from this community. In fact, it’s where Bryan and I met!

One thing I love about the RenFest community is how diverse it is. It is filled with people of many professions and experiences. We have nurses, electricians, lawyers, teachers, accountants, morticians, stay-at-home parents. We have married parents, single parents, weird dynamic families, families with a child with special needs, families without special needs, families with “fur-kids” aka pets, families without children. We have people with bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, Down syndrome, PTSD, and so much more. No matter your issue, someone can relate in some way.

When Alex was diagnosed with ADHD, I told my friends about it. My friends in the community were supportive and many gave me tips to help him. I had friends who have ADHD tell me that it will be ok and he will learn how to cope with it. I had parents and teachers tell me things to look out for in foods that can trigger the ADHD or make the symptoms worse. Several offered advice and support when it came to his IEP as well. Having such a wide array of experiences to draw from, I received a lot of great advice. We know that the same thing does not work for everyone, but it gave us a starting point. Discussing it on Facebook allowed my friends to get advice from each other as well. There were several instances of “I didn’t know that. Something I will have to try!” Seeing us all come together over a shared diagnosis made me very grateful for the community.

After we got Mary’s diagnosis, we told our friends in the community. I was surprised at how many of my friends told me of a family member that has Down syndrome. So many of them reached out to me with contact info for their family members who are more than happy to talk with us. My friends who have a child with special needs reassured us that what we were feeling was normal when receiving information like that and that we were not bad people because of it. Every single one of them is excited to meet Mary.

Do not underestimate the effect a community can have. The support I have received because of the RenFest community has helped me through some difficult times. They are an amazing group of people. I am told how great of a community the local Down Syndrome Association is and am looking forward to getting to know them.

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