June 17, 2021
We all think of our dads as superheroes, and today at LuMind IDSC as we celebrate all fathers and father- figures, we could not think of a more fitting family to feature. In an interview with Dr. Sohail Masood, we discussed comic books, Down syndrome, and his concern for the potential health conditions that affect people with Down syndrome.
Dr. Sohail Masood is an award-winning entrepreneur and clinician who has used his skills, knowledge, and love for his son to join the incredible cause of improving the lives of people with Down syndrome. In a way, he is utilizing his superpowers for good!
When Omar Masood was born, he was diagnosed with Down syndrome. As the first in their family to receive this diagnosis, his parents were faced with a new challenge that they had not encountered so far. But as clinicians and scientific minded people, Drs. Mona and Sohail Masood started thinking right away about ways how they could help their son achieve a fulfilling life.
Dr. Sohail Masood has devoted a quarter century of his life to researching the health and socio-economic impact of Down syndrome. That is how his cooperation with LuMind IDSC was born, “because he wanted to achieve something that would benefit not only Omar but also other people with Down syndrome.”
When Omar was still a child, Sohail used to worry about what would happen after he finished high school. Unfortunately, even with advances in inclusion, there are yet not enough opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. Sohail didn’t want Omar to stay home, bored and feeling without purpose, like any parent, he wanted Omar to go out and conquer the world.
His original thought was to open a pet shop for Omar, given his love for all animals, big and small regardless of their appearance; this seemed like the perfect venture for the young man. But as he grew up, Omar started developing a passion for comic books. When he started calling himself Spidey and Peter Parker and giving people around him superhero names, this sparked an idea in Sohail’s mind that would be the start of a great adventure.
Now, at 24 years old, Omar is a young adult and entrepreneur. When he finished high school, his parents helped him open a comic book store in Lexington, Massachusetts. The original store did so well that the family is expanding to new premises this summer.
Omar’s World of Comics and Hobbies is more than just a business venture that provides the community with comics, card games and videogames; it employs students with disabilities from Lexington High School’s LABBB Educational Collaborative, where Omar was a student. The collaborative helps students with disabilities to use their academic skills and translate them into real work experience that will help them in the future.
Omar continues to love animals and takes horseback riding lessons; on weekends he helps at the stables to feed and care for the horses.
The Masoods are proud of the success that Omar’s business has had, and they are hopeful that they will be able to open other branches and thus help other individuals with disabilities to find a place where they can share their love for comic books and get work experience. But as a father, Sohail still worries about Omar’s future. He is aware of the potential conditions that affect the aging population with Down syndrome and the lack of research and funding.
“Unfortunately, Down syndrome is not at the top of the list of government agencies, it comes down to the parents, caregivers and community in general to support this kind of research.” He stated. He also encourages all parents to be involved in research and to learn about what actions they can take to combat the looming health conditions that might affect their loved ones. “We should be part of any and every type of research that can benefit people with Down syndrome to live independently and free of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”
You don’t need superpowers to join a great cause! Donate today in honor of a father or father figure and your contribution will support our mission for research advancement and to help people with Down syndrome live healthier and independent lives.