World Down Syndrome Day approaches. This should be the busiest time for the blog. I have a list of websites I should be pitching articles to, so I can you know, raise awareness. Because even though things are looking good for people with Down Syndrome and we’ve come a million miles from the days when a diagnosis translated into a life hidden in the shadows of institutions, there’s still so much to do, so much educating to give, so many lazy stereotypes to be busted, so much more understanding to foster, equality to nurture, prejudice to dismiss.
So I really should be doing something to address all of the above. But 2015 is not going according to plan. We’re in the midst of an ongoing and incredibly stressful house purchase where everything that can go wrong, seems to be going wrong. On top of this, there’s the fact that the state of my mental health is at an all time low and it’s not hard to see why I’m lacking motivation to hop on the awareness train and get the message out there. But this is for my darling Mini, so I’m digging deep and doing this for her. For those of you who are new to the blog and don’t know about her, let me introduce a true force of nature.
When Mini was born, she had feeding issues. She had to be fed through a tube in her nose. You can just about make it out in the photo below. The doctors thought it would be several weeks before she would be able to feed through a bottle. They said she would never be able to breastfeed.
She left hospital just 6 days later. Here she is at just 2 weeks feeding herself!She breastfed for 8 weeks.
Her paediatrician said she there was a good chance she would not walk independently before the age of 3. Here she is at 21 months, walking the beach in Kerry.
We have been told she may never talk properly. She speaks three languages and ok, she doesn’t have a huge amount of words in any of them, but she’s getting there. Today I went to a birthday party held for her in her preschool. I watched the other children flock around her when it was time to give out her presents. I watched her show them some sign language. I watched her respond to her father in French and her teacher in English. When was the last time you spoke 3 languages in the space of five minutes?
As for inclusion?Well four years ago, I was terrified she wouldn’t fit into society but everywhere she goes people naturally gravitate towards her kind and loving spirit. Here she is stealing the show at a photo shoot to launch the 2013 Baboró children’s Festival.
There’s so much I have learned from her in the last 4 years. She continues to surprise and prove so many people wrong (me included!) on a daily basis. She is a running, jumping, laughing, dancing, singing human dynamo. She is smart, funny, cute, adorable, loving, impatient, brave, curious and unique. She is all these things and more. Down Syndrome doesn’t define her and it certainly doesn’t limit what she can do.
So, to all the doctors and other members of the medical profession,don’t be sorry!
To all the parents who have just been given a diagnosis, don’t be sad!
To all the family and friends, congratulate don’t commiserate!
Down syndrome is nothing to be scared about. It is one thing, it is not everything.
Keep calm, it’s just an extra chromosome!Happy World Down Syndrome Day 2015!
World Down Syndrome Day 2015 is on Saturday March 21st. You can show your support for people with Down Syndrome by wearing odd socks, taking a foot selfie and sharing it on social media with the hashtag Footsie4DSI and donating €2 by texting DSI to 50300.
For our UK friends, you can donate £1 by texting SOCK57 to 70070.