Palatine, IL

Uncle with Down Syndrome bonds with sister's kids: "He's so soft and gentle and quiet"

Amy Christie

Matthew Rhodes, 22, makes his niece and nephew laugh as he plays with them, sings, and bottle feeds them when needed. Their bond is unique, and it keeps growing each day.

Erin Johnson, his sister, shared that her brother with Down Syndrome is the most loving uncle and tender person you could ever meet.

What are the details?

Erin and Matthew grew up together in Palatine, Illinois, and Matt still lives there. And since he became an uncle, he's shown everyone in the family how loving and attentive he can be.

"Matt is a lot of fun! He [...] loves to make people smile. He is affectionate and gentle with his nephew and niece, forgiving and loving," Erin shared with The Epoch Times.

She is happy that her kids can have such an amazing uncle and treasures the way they're getting closer each day.

"I am excited that my kids have a devoted uncle in their lives. He thrives when he's with my kids, and it's mutual. They will gain so much from him," Erin added.

The woman now lives three hours away from her brother with her husband and two kids. They visit often, and they also talk on the phone every week.

And the way Matthew has reacted to being an uncle has amazed everyone in the family.

"Matt has always been sweet and loving, but he sometimes can love too intensely—big bear hugs—and be loud. He's so soft and gentle and quiet with his niece and nephew. We knew he'd love them, but this gentleness and attentiveness surprised us!" Erin explained.

And he shares a loving connection with both her kids, knowing how to be fun and caring at all times.

"His connection with Dominic was one of a kind, but he started just as strong a connection with Louisa," Erin said.

From the first day his niece came home, Matt looked after her and was utterly smitten.

"It was a special, beautiful interaction to witness. He loves getting her from her naps and snuggling her. He loves being silly, making her laugh, and singing while he feeds her a bottle. Changing diapers isn't a favorite, but he's eager to help!" Erin said.

As time passed, Matt has shown he is trustworthy and careful while looking after his niece and nephew, so the couple lets him watch them quite often.

"If he's not comfortable with something, he [...] gets someone to help. He's never given me a single reason not to trust him," the woman said.

Erin shares part of her family life on social media and is confident that her posts will gradually get rid of any negative perceptions about people with disabilities.

"I love showing my brother is capable of more than people tend to assume. Most comments we get are kind, and nothing makes my heart fuller. I'm glad my brother gets to have a role where he can lead and care because he is often the one receiving the care," Erin concluded, pointing out that both their lives are enriched by everyday loving moments that make their family stronger.


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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX

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