Father makes his Down syndrome son fly in touching superhero photo series

When American photographer Alan Lawrence found out that his newborn son, Wil, had Down syndrome, he spent days worrying about how the family would cope with raising a special needs child. However the dad-of-five soon realised that his fears had been unnecessary.

Alan recognised that Wil brought "a light" to the family, and set up That Dad Blog, a website that focuses on the positive side of having a child with Down syndrome. A year later in 2014, Alan took the website – and his son – to new heights, by sharing photos of the youngster flying in a number of different scenarios.

"When Wil was learning to roll over, I noticed that with his arms outstretched, it looked like he was flying," Alan told People magazine. "So I got this idea: Why not post pictures of Wil flying in all kinds of places to show that he's a kid without limits?"

The blog and associated Instagram account have since attracted thousands of fans who support Alan's message that children with special needs are super heroes, capable of doing more than they may be given credit for.

"I know now that having a child with Down syndrome is not gloom and doom, despite all the negative stuff out there for new parents," Alan said, adding that he is working on a calendar of inspirational imagery to benefit Down syndrome causes.

Wil and I have perfected the Alley-oop. #wilcanfly #downsyndromeawareness #downsyndrome #dreamteam

A photo posted by Alan Lawrence (@thatdadblog) on

"I'm hoping that when people see Wil flying, they'll think, 'Wow, now there's a cute, happy kid', instead of thinking of what it says about Down syndrome on the Wikipedia page."

Wil is the youngest of five children, and has a little brother or sister due in September. His parents said that the project offers a fun way for him to interact with his siblings.

"They love helping their dad come up with ideas for the pictures," Alan's wife Nikki said. "They all fight over who gets to hold Wil. He's like a bottle of sunshine, brightening everybody's day."

My peeps. #wilcanfly #bringinglight

A photo posted by Alan Lawrence (@thatdadblog) on

The family say they will continue with the 'Wil Can Fly' project as long as he's enjoying it.

"I take two pictures – one of the scene we're using and one of Wil with me," Alan revealed. "Then I airbrush out of the photo. I suppose Wil really could fly forever, as long as he's enjoying it and we don't run out of places to fly… And as long as I'm in shape enough to lift him."

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