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Terri Mauro

Colin Farrell's Son Has Angelman Syndrome

By October 17, 2007

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You may recognize Irish actor Colin Farrell as an action star in movies like Miami Vice and Alexander, or as a hell-raiser in piles of tabloid stories. Now there's another label to apply to the Hollywood heartthrob: Special-needs parent. Yeah, we're hell-raisers, too.

Farrell revealed in an interview with the Irish Independent newspaper that his four-year-old son, James, has Angelman Syndrome, a genetic condition that's characterized by severe developmental disabilities, seizures, speech and motor difficulties -- plus smiling and laughing.

Of his son, Farrell is quoted as saying, "The only time I'm reminded that there is something different about him -- that he has some deviation of what is perceived to be normal -- is when I see him with other four-year-olds. Then I go 'oh yeah' and it comes back to me. But from day one I felt that he's the way he's meant to be."

He also celebrates the fact that young James recently took his first steps, after years of hard work.

Farrell was involved in Special Olympics even before his son's birth, and that seems to have given him a healthy understanding of the gifts that children with special needs can bring.

For another parent's positive perspective on Angelman Syndrome, watch "My Little Angel," the latest addition to our gallery of inspirational videos. There are also adorable photos of kids with the disorder on the Angelman Syndrome Foundation site, which offers lots of good resources for affected families.

Photo: Evan Agostini/Getty Images
October 19, 2007 at 2:58 pm
(1) Rachel Brown says:

While I am sorry for any heartache that Colin Farrell and his son’s mother may have had to work through after getting this diagnosis, I am nonetheless pleased to see a celebrity with a child with a chromosomal disability.
After seeing Holly Robinson Peete and Jenny McCarthy on Oprah, my friends and I were commenting on all the famous people who have kids with Autism now, and my friend said, “I wonder why we never see celebrities with kids with Down Syndrome” [which is what my son has]. I said, it’s because there’s a prenatal test for Down Syndrome! These folks want “perfect” babies. I’m sure many of them have pregnancies we never hear about because the embryo isn’t “celebrity-worthy”. I hope Colin Farrell takes his son to premieres, on outing and vacations where they are lots of paparazzi, so the world can see the beautiful child and the love his father has for him.

October 20, 2007 at 12:51 am
(2) Andrea says:

I hear ya sister! I pray for the day that one child with special needs slips into Hollywoody. It means $ for us in the trenches hoping and praying for treatments for our children’s syndromes. My son has Prader Willi syndrome and it is a blessing to me but ofcourse not without great sacrifice and emotional pains. Theya re a blessing for us so why not for them!

October 20, 2007 at 10:39 pm
(3) Jessi says:

My little girl has Angelman Syndrome and I must say I am hoping that this unfornunate news brings about awarness to this disorder. I love my angel deaply and not a day passes by that she doesn’t bring happiness and joy into my life but I am on a quest for her and that is to someday find a cure. So if people are going to be aware and willing to support the Angelman Community because a celebrity’s child suffers from this rare disorder I sure hope he going to do more than just release a statement to and independent newspaper. He needs to involve himself with the AS Foundation, and be the voice for all of our children including his own.

October 21, 2007 at 2:09 pm
(4) Bronwen says:

I have a two year old with Angelman Syndrome. She is an absolute joy and has brought about such positive change to our family. I understand Jesse when she says she is on a quest because I am on the same one. I hope that Mr. Farrell uses his celebrity to spread awareness of this little known syndrome. I’ve seen several pictures of his son and he is truly a beautiful child.

November 30, 2007 at 6:22 am
(5) Anna Lundqvist says:

My brother Erik has Angelmans Syndrome and HE IS MY JOY.
If he would have a business card it would say “professional hugger”.

People act in two different ways – by love or fear.
Fear make people insecure and not knowing how to react to people that are “different”.
It is the same situation in Sweden as in the rest of the world. Sadly but true.

Working as a graphic designer and photographer I have produced a book that shows how Erik, someone little “different”, sees the world.
As part of this project I have been in Japan, living in a family with a son that has Angelman Syndrome. Really fascinating because I found that the culture and childhood did not effect how this people act or communicate.
See webpage for some more information.


May 23, 2008 at 1:03 pm
(6) Fred C. says:

I understand how Mr. Farrell feels as my son was diagnosed with AS 2 weeks ago. For years his mother and I thought he had cerebral palsy and we never know for sure what he had. While he may never speak and say to me “Dad, I love you!”, I know he he does and that’s all that matters. I wish Mr. Farrell the best and I wish his son continued success in all his therapies.

July 2, 2008 at 2:59 pm
(7) Nony says:

Rachel Brown says:

“While I am sorry for any heartache that Colin Farrell and his son’s mother may have had to work through after getting this diagnosis, I am nonetheless pleased to see a celebrity with a child with a chromosomal disability.”

It is astonishing to me that Ms. Brown, the mother of a child with Downs Syndrome, would be “pleased” to see a celebrity or anyone suffer the agony of having a child with a chromosomal defect or any other disability. She also wrote that celebrities want perfect babies and probably have many pregnancies about which we do not hear because the damaged babies are not born. That is a narrow-minded, ignorant, shallow view.

While many actors have a certain narcissism about them, Mr. Farrell appears to have a self-deprecating sense of humor and a genuine concern for others. He was involved with Special Olympics BEFORE his son was born. I am sure that like all parents, celebrities for the most part just want healthy babies.

Celebrities with healthy children get hounded by the paparazzi and it is difficult for those children to cope with that attention. Perhaps celebrity parents of disabled children wish to protect them from the paparazzi and shield them from being exploited in the media.

Rather than be “pleased” to see a celebrity with a disabled child, I am sad for Mr. Farrell because I know how difficult it is to watch ones child struggle to overcome or at least cope with a disability. I am also happy for Mr. Farrell because he obviously unconditionally loves and accepts his beautiful son, even though little James is not “perfect.”

Nobody is perfect and to assume that celebrities only want perfect children and abort any with defects is absurd.

September 19, 2008 at 7:19 am
(8) carrie says:

I have a child with Angelman syndrome and she is wonderful! I wouldn’t change her for the world because she is perfect in her way.

I think it is terribe that those of you with children with a disability are saying you are “pleased” or glad to hear this. Celebrities are still people and these are still children.

Grow up!

October 24, 2008 at 4:00 am
(9) Janice Mills says:

We have an adopted five year old daughter with AS, and she is, as everyone has described, an angel with a smile that lights up a room and a hug for every receptive being on the planet.

We have recently moved to Albuquerque, NM and have met 3 other families with kids with AS. Their experiences are similar. We all think that our kids are “brilliant” and we all forget that our kids aren’t “normal” until we are around typically developing kids of the same age. They have such native intelligence and wisdom and are so communicative and engaging, with or without spoken language.

One challenge we have all met is that school systems and therapists often have no experience with kids with AS and want to treat them as if they were autistic. Schools are often so pre-occupied with their high energy levels and the challenges of trying to make them conform that they do not appreciate their gifts and talents.

My hope with celebrity presence in the AS community is an increase in understanding. I would love to see some organizing around Mr. Farrell and AS similar to the work that is being done with Jenny McCarthy and autism.

One of the families here in Albuquerque has 2 eight year old boys, that are actually triplets (their sister is unaffected). We’d love to have a presence and feel that our triplet friends are rare enough to attract some attention in the media.

Any comments, suggestions or interest in organizing, contact me through my web site – http://www.shaklee.net/healthyhomesandfamilies/main

January 7, 2009 at 9:09 am
(10) Disabled says:

I am a disabled adult now, I grew up with a physical disability, one thing that I will say to parents who have children with any type of disablilty is to try to raise the child as normal as possible like there is nothing wrong with the child. I am so grateful that my parents did this with me.

March 14, 2010 at 1:58 am
(11) Leonor Esquer says:

I have a daughter that is 22 diagnosed with Angelmans Syndrome she has become my guiding light and as she has become older it has become easier to deal with… Anybody that wants to know about it email me lnr_esquer@yahoo.com

August 2, 2010 at 2:14 pm
(12) Yvonne says:

My sister and I have Guardianship over our neice who has Angelman’s Syndrome and she has brought so much love and joy to our families over the years. Our brother passed away when she was 24 years old, she is now 40.
There is a reason God gives us these special children so always treasure the time you have with them. One day they will speak, sing and run on streets of Gold.

January 18, 2011 at 1:46 pm
(13) melissa says:

my 13 year old son has angelman syndrome. he is the joy of our lives. though some may see him and all children with disabilities as “damaged’ or “imperfect” in our veiw our son is the image a the perfect human. he loves unconditionally, he is and will probably be without sin eternally, he does not judge and has no interest in the material things we all depend on in this life. that is a perfect human.

January 24, 2011 at 8:13 am
(14) Siskolikka says:

I have a special son he has a different syndrome. To all of you who are involved with any kind of “differences” please take my advice; awareness and peer support, two most important keys in life to surive!

April 20, 2011 at 10:37 am
(15) Samira says:

love and hope to all the parents and children out there! Its truly sad though that we need a celebrity with some form of a disability in their lives to actually take action, same goes with everyone else. we dont need to be touched by someone with any type of syndrome to make a change or hope for a cure. :)

August 5, 2011 at 3:10 pm
(16) Paula says:

I too have a son with Angelman Syndrome. He is now 20 years old, and it does get easier. He is a joy and no one can make me smile more than my Colin! He has taught our family what is important in life, and just how special a “hug” can be. I can only dream that one day he may be cured and will be able to tell me how much he loves us.

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