"…having sat in another waiting area we were shown into the apparently highly regarded consultant’s room. A strong set man in a white coat who held himself with great authority and the bedside manner of a block of ice. He looked at our notes and explained to us in a really patronising manner that is was unlikely our baby would be able to live independently. He told us he would be unlikely to speak properly, would not go to mainstream school, may never be toilet trained and would need a lot of care and attention. That we were to expect to look after him for the rest of our lives.
We left the office in shock…"
Extract from A Positive Result, Joanne Pasquale
Tell me your story...
One of the reasons I decided to finally publish A Positive Result was to show the world that having Down syndrome isn’t like that hideous consultant described to us almost 18 years ago. On this part of the website, the APR blog, I want to celebrate all the triumphs, cheer on all the efforts and show off all that is wonderful about having Down syndrome. Please, get involved by sending me your stories and I’ll include all those I can. Whether it’s your daughter's first step, your son’s first word or your grandchild winning first place, let’s show the world what our kids can do... I’ll start.
Races, medals and new friends
Thanks to the support of The British Club and with the help of our good friend Steve we have also been very fortunate to find a fantastic coach who has been training Jamie, along with his best friend Harry. Alain Chan who runs Total Swimming is a former Paralympics coach and with his help the boys were able to enter their very first big meet. In Melbourne!
Having been in touch with the Down Syndrome Swimming Association I noticed there was a championship coming and thought I would email just to ask for more info. After all, we were closer to Australia than we’d ever be! The organiser, a lady called Libby could not have been more welcoming. Before we knew it, the boys had places as ‘international guests’ and Harry’s mum Sue and I were booking flights to Melbourne. It really was a bit of a whirlwind decision.
The competition, which took place over a weekend in September 2017, featured swimmers ranging in age from 12 to 25 and included other international guests from Portugal and New Zealand. Some of those who competed had won medals including at the Special Olympics, National and International Championships – so the boys faced some stiff competition. Having said that, there were young people of varying abilities and each race was run as if they were all competing for gold.
The spirit of the competition really helped them and they – as well as Sue and I – had a great time. That weekend we saw just what our young people can achieve, and the difference positivity, encouragement, strong coaching and commitment can make.
I only wish I could have taken along that so-called ‘highly-regarded consultant’ I’d seen all those years ago, not to mention those involved in trying to screen out Down syndrome.
Thank you to the fantastic people we met at Down Syndrome Swimming Australia, to Libby and her team of organisers and of course the athletes and new friends who all made us feel so welcome. Here’s to the next time!