Mother's viral post helps raise acceptance for special needs

A national ad campaign featured the youth has generated a huge following.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WTSP) – A mother in Georgia’s mission to get her son, who has Down syndrome, into the modeling world has created an even larger movement thanks to the power of social media.

Meagan Nash is the mother of Asher. Back in July, Nash submitted photos of Asher to a local advertising agency handling a campaign for children's clothing brand OshKosh B’Gosh. Nash said that she never heard back from the agency, so she reached out to them.

According to Nash, the agency said that Asher’s photos hadn’t been submitted because OshKosh hadn’t requested “a baby with special needs.”

The story has since gone viral all over the internet, reaching parents of children with special needs all over the world

“That’s the reality of social media, that we can interact immediately and we can actually show support immediately,” said Eliana Tardio, program director for the Family Network on Disabilities Parent Education Network. “Many times when you have a child with special needs you look around and you think ‘I am the only one, why did this happen to me or to my child?’,and then in these times you realize that you are not alone and that there’s a big community supporting you.”

Tardio, who has two children aged 9 and 12, both of whom have Down syndrome and both are models for major national ad campaigns.

“I think, for me, it was at first like, ‘why is this still happening?’,” said Tardio. “And then it was like oh my God, these things happen but they give us the opportunity to speak up and show the world that it has to happen. It’s not a choice anymore that you are going to tell me ‘your child isn’t good enough’ because I can prove you wrong and I have a big community supporting me.”

“I would go ahead and ask them prior to submitting him, we do have someone who’s age 5 who is absolutely adorable, he is a special needs child, could I include him in the package?” said Tampa-based modeling agent Susan Schwabinger of Alexa Model & Talent Management Agency. “For the most part, we don’t have a lot of models with special needs coming in here looking to be a model. I don’t know why, but we don’t.”

Schwabinger said, in her opinion, Nash absolutely has what it takes to get into modeling.

“He’s adorable, he really is, and he’s quite a ham,” she said. “He’s very vocal in his facial expressions and I think that’s wonderful. A lot of times kids are just bashful and shy and they just don’t feel like letting it all hang out but he doesn’t seem to have a problem there.”

And for parents like Tardio, Nash's story is one that never could have happened without the power of social media.

"That's the reality of social media, that we can interact immediately and we can actually show support immediately,” added Tardio. “He’s a wonderful child, he’s beautiful, he’s representing our community and he has the ability to be a model because, if you have seen the pictures, he is amazingly cute.”


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