No One Told Henry

Henry is our 4 year old son, he loves sausages, crisps, chocolate and playing outdoors. He has a twin brother, William and a big sister Isobel, who is 7. He is a terrible sleeper and loves music. Oh, he also has Down’s Syndrome. See how you learnt a bit about Henry before you learnt that he has Down’s Syndrome? Even in his little life, people are quick to judge based purely on his diagnosis. Whilst, it is absolutely a part of him, it doesn’t define him and we wouldn’t change it

There are so many stereotypes that surround people with Down’s Syndrome, “They are always happy, aren’t they?”, well we can categorically say that this isn’t the case, Henry has a range of emotions, just like his brother and sister. “People with Down’s Syndrome all look alike.” Henry looks just like his dad, although he has my eyes. Yes ,there are similarities, like almond shape eyes but as with any child, they all look different. I had someone come up to me in the supermarket once and say “My sister was just like your little chicken, he’s lovely.” Whilst, I know this was said with the best intentions, it made me a little sad, because I don’t see the Down’s Syndrome, I just see Henry.

Having a child with Down’s Syndrome, opens up a whole new world. I didn’t really know what it was like to have a child with Down’s Syndrome before we had Henry and I am sure I would have believed a lot of the stereotypes before. Someone once said to me that that fact they test for it, makes it sound scary or that is a bad thing. It is only recently that people with Down’s Syndrome aren’t separated from society, only as recently as 1971, were people with Down’s Syndrome offered an education. This acceptance (I use that loosely, as we still have a long way to go,) has provided a greater life expectancy, it is now over 60 years old.

Henry is like most children his age, he loves playing and knows exactly what he likes and doesn’t like! There are things that he struggles with, but works hard everyday to achieve his best. Most people with Down’s Syndrome have hypermobility and low muscle tone, this means things like walking, eating and talking, all take that bit longer and they have to work a lot harder to do these things, but given the opportunity, people with Down’s Syndrome will be the best of themselves.

Henry has Speech and Language Therapy, Occupation Therapy and SEN support at preschool. These all play a huge part in his development. He attends mainstream preschool and is starting mainstream school in September. We can’t predict the future for him and we can only promise we will give him the best opportunities, which is exactly the same as we promise for our other children.

People also say, that having a sibling with Down’s Syndrome is a burden on their siblings. William is too young yet to know but Isobel once, quite wisely, said “Down’s Syndrome is like snow flakes, everyone is different and beautiful at the same time.”

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