On Grey's Anatomy, Caterina Scorsone fights to save patients' lives as Dr. Amelia Shepherd. But in a new personal essay for GoodMorningAmerica.com, the 39-year-old actress writes about a different kind of fight—the fight for opportunity, visibility and equity for her daughter Pippa, who has Down syndrome.
"Pippa has Down syndrome," Caterina writes in the piece, which she penned in honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Month. "But Pippa isn't Down syndrome. Pippa is Pippa."
For those who don't know the 3-year-old child, Caterina says she has "rainbow-colored eyes" and hair that's "like soft-spun caramel."
"She likes wearing dresses more than pants," the proud parent, who is also the mother to 8-year-old Eliza and 10-month-old Lucinda, continues. "She particularly likes dresses with moons and stars on them. She likes popcorn and Totoro and elephants. Pippa loves her big sister and her baby sister, too. She likes toast with butter, trampolining, and lip-syncing to Sia and the Sing soundtrack. Pippa likes the color red and does not like having her hair washed in the tub. She likes swimming and sign language and coconut water."
Caterina also acknowledges that Pippa is "different."
"She has a visual learning profile that makes it easier for her to learn from pictures and printed words than from hearing a teacher lecture," she shares with GMA. "She could read simple words at 3 years old but took longer than her sister to be able to talk because of differences in her oral motor planning and muscle tone. Pippa has almond-shaped eyes and a slightly wider sandal gap between her toes. She is small for her age but her eyes are wise. She always says what she means and doesn't suffer fools."
And while Caterina recognizes that "Pippa is different," she also reminds readers that "so are you and so am I."
"Pippa has needs that are specific to the way her body was made. I have needs that are specific to the way my body was made. We all do," the TV star adds. "For Pippa to accomplish what she chooses to accomplish, to thrive and fulfill the desires she has for herself, she needs to be supported in specific ways. So do I."
Caterina then describes the therapies, visibility and support Pippa needs both now and when she's older. "She'll need some supports to get an equal shot at life," she writes for GMA. "She'll need equity."
She also makes it clear that there's a distinction between equity and equality. "Equity is a more useful word than equality," Caterina states. "Equity embraces our differences. Equality sometimes accidentally erases them and in so doing, creates disadvantage and inequality for a great many people."
For people to have equity, she continues, "We each need to be seen as worthy and precious because of, rather than despite our differences." As she explains, this is achieved through a number of ways, including having "our uniqueness" seen and protected by legislation and social structures.
"For us to organize ourselves in a way that allows for equality in the fullness of our difference, we need to remember that every individual human being is the point," she later adds. "Each unique person is the whole story, interconnected fractals of a wholeness called 'love.' No one is less or more useful on the way toward something else. Human beings seen as a means is exploitation. Human beings seen as an end is dignity. It's love."
In the end, she writes that everyone has the same basic needs: love, safety, dignity and connection.
"But human beings are different, we are specific, and we need to be loved and supported individually," she concludes. "We are the unique and distinct notes of an infinite musical composition. We are every beautiful rainbow color refracted through the mysterious prism of life. We are equal, different and miraculous, like Pippa's eyes."
Read her full essay on GoodMorningAmerica.com.