Lauren Smith-Donohoe was born and raised in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area in California, where she lives now in East Oakland with her partner, Robbie, and their children on a small urban farm, affectionately nicknamed “Down To Earth Family Farm.” Robbie and Lauren’s three children, Persephone (2002) and Dubhlainn (2014), and Connolly (2017) are the inspiration for both Lauren’s writing and her commitment to social justice and the disability justice movement. The Smith-Donohoes keep small goats and chickens, and dream of building a duck pond one day soon.
Lauren is a writer, childbirth enthusiast and educator, gardener, lifelong student and practitioner of herbalism, trained first responder, and a retired karaoke star.
Touting her expensive and time-consuming “double masters” (MAMA), Lauren regularly presents from the parent’s perspective to educators, therapists, and social workers. She has created a comprehensive presentation with educational materials called Child Led Supports to Replace Harmful Interventions as well as Translating the Social Model into Early Intervention & Special Education. These presentations center the experience of the child and the well-being of family relationships and provide practical strategies for professionals.
A passionate advocate for acceptance, Lauren has also put together a workshop for parents of disabled children who are in Early Intervention programs, called Nothing Broken Here: Supports, Not Fixes, that uses the social model of disability as a foundation for acceptance while parenting and navigating therapies in early childhood. Often times as parents move away from grief and toward acceptance, they devote energy to doing the very, very most they can do for their child– to the detriment of their child’s experience and their relationship. This workshop combines experience, parent wisdom, and down-to-earth strategies for moving away from assembling the perfect disabled superhero child and toward sustainable supports and strong relationships.
Lauren speaks locally in the Bay Area at various Social Services agencies on these topics and more– specifically focusing on protecting the parent-child relationship when there is disability-related intervention in early childhood. She travels locally to Bay Area middle schools to give presentations in 7th grade science classes on Down syndrome during the module on human genetic disorders. For more information, or to book Lauren at your school or event, please use the contact form at the bottom of this page.
In addition to community-based work advocating for the autonomy of disabled children, Lauren is writing a book called Raising Up Down Syndrome, a new guide for parents in the first 3 years of raising a child with Down syndrome, or Trisomy 21 (T21). Raising Up Down Syndrome takes a new approach to parenting a child with T21, one that centers the child and their experience, and looks at common parenting issues through the lens of the social model of disability with the intent of empowering and elevating the status of children with T21. Please check back for more information and excerpts of Raising Up Down Syndrome in the near future!