A Makaton Nativity Play that Includes all Children

Mum of Jacob and Primary School teacher Rebecca Thompson created this wonderful new Christmas resource a couple of years ago that would benefit all early years settings or SEN classrooms. It comes complete with Makaton symbols. 

This Season she launches a sequel, Gold Star Inn.

New Makaton nativity play

When my son, Jacob was about 14 months old our speech and language therapist recommended we started to use Makaton to help him to communicate.  Desperate to do anything that would help his development my husband and I enrolled on a two-day training course and our signing journey began.

Honorary Doctorate for Sally Phillips for A World Without Down's

A doctorate is usually gained after years of university-based slog, immersing yourself in research, living amongst piles of books and coming up with ground-breaking ideas that might impact on a wider audience.

This week, one of the nation’s funniest comedy actors, Sally Phillips who is currently co-presenting BBC Radio 4’s Museum of Curiosity, had an honorary doctorate bestowed upon her by the School of Social Sciences at the University of East London (UEL).

Sally Phillips receives honorary doctorate for A World Without Down's

British Citizen Youth Awards for Mia and Natty

Down's syndrome ambassadors Mia and Natty are to receive a BCyA

We are enormously proud, excited and honoured to announce that our girls Mia and Natty have been selected to receive a British Citizen Youth Award

We heard a couple of weeks ago (there were many tears and squeals) but the news has been under embargo until now. I think Grandma almost burst trying to keep it to herself, but well done for managing it Pearl! 

The girls were nominated by Learning Disability Nurse Helen Laverty and myself because it means so very much to us to be able to show the girls how proud we are of all the work they do. 

HealthUnlocked Health Blog of the Year? Your vote could help fund our next book for children about Down's syndrome

Your vote could help us win funds towards publishing our next book! (Click to vote.)

The sequel is in the pipeline
Goodness gracious me! What an honour! Our little blog Downs Side Up has been shortlisted as one of the world's top health blogs by HealthUnlocked and we're up for Blog of the Year no less!

Simply Be Yourself: A New Era for Mia

If my life were a corny film, this would be the moment the footage blends to slo-mo... Abba would start singing 'Slipping Through My Fingers' in the background, and my teary eyes would steam up the camera lens.

And although I do wish I could press pause on our girls growing up at times, this is not a film. This is real life. 

Natty develops at her own gentle pace whilst Mia appears to be growing into a young woman at lightening speed.

Back in the day: They grow up in the blink of an eye!

Every few years the change in our girls seems to suddely hit me. I vlogged 4 years ago about the deep feelings wrapped up in their favourite clothes; the ones you can't quite bring yourself to give away because they were worn for key moments in time and almost have the memories woven into them.

Somehow realisations such as this seem to occur during the Summer months, and this school holiday was a wake up call for me. We began by clearing the decks, taking outgrown toys and way-too-small clothing to the charity shop.

The sun, fresh air and exercise too mean that the grow chart marks on the kitchen wall lay testament to their physical growth and spending so much more time together as a family than usual, brings home the elements of your child that you perhaps miss when they are at school.

But it was the difference in Mia that struck me the most

Suddenly this young woman came out of her shell, became more noticably confident and independent, learnt life skills like brushing aside the mean girls at school and staying true to what she knows is right. 

I watched her become more comfortable in her skin and grow and glow with her newfound understanding of the world. 

Having fun together in the gorgeous Simply Be SS17 collection.
Featuring the tropical print Fantasie Swimsuit, turquoise Sunseeker Cross Front Plunge Swimsuit,
Magisculpt floral swimsuit and blue Panache beach dress.

She became really good company; someone who took my swimwear for her own, made me cups of tea, was happy to watch comedy films together, share a giggle and try new skills.

Expressing ourselves through Graffiti @UrbanGypset

Throughout the school holidays both girls faced their fears and tried activities from kayaking to scuba diving, flowrider to graffiti school for the first time. We in turn learnt to let go a little and trust in the benefits of allowing them both to take calculated risks, difficult as it always is to do. (Read Playing it Safe or Brave Experiential Learning here.)

Sometimes its easy to focus on your child with additional needs, and forget that the sporty, strong, neuro-typical child needs just as much nurturing and confidence-boosting. 

Letting go: Natty tries the Flowrider!

So I want extend a huge thank you to clothing company Simply Be for gifting some beautiful swimwear to us*. (I say us, it was intended for me, but was nabbed by Mia and she looked confident and amazing in it.) 

Bright, trendy and cheerful enough for a teen, yet comfy, modest and practical enough to wear under a wetsuit or for sport, as well as flattering and supportive enough for my *ahem* needs. 

We also opted for a navy lace cover up, proudly made in Sheffield, which I think would be equally lovely worn as a tunic over jeans with a camisole underneath. 

Did you also know that some Simply Be items are available from a size 8 up to a size 34 and they stock everything from shoes, to jeans, dresses, lingerie and accessories. 

It was a wonderful way to spoil Mia a little and celebrate her individuality, as well as giving her some much-needed attention. 

Mother daughter moments with Mia


*We chose the Sunseeker Cross Front Plunge Swimsuit in turquoise, the tropical Fantasie Versaille Control Swimsuit and the Magisculpt multi-coloured Swimsuit as well as the supremely practical and gorgeous Panache Navy Sun Dress. Items may now be in the end of season sale, so grab a bargain today and browse the AW17 collection.

Swimwear for all at Simply Be

We were sent the clothing in order to review the Simply Be range. #ad

Read about Daddy Downs Side Up's new wardrobe from Jacamo here. 

Tips and Contacts for School Pupils with Down's Syndrome

It's that time of year when many of you are preparing your children for a new term at school.

Tips for school pupils with Down's syndrome

I think back to the time Natty came to the end of her pre-school years and remember the stress and worry, the form filling and meetings, all mixed together with pride that she was making this huge step for the first time. I remember a lot of tears and late nights and the invaluable support of many professionals.

Whether your child is starting at mainstream or special school, you will want to get through this process as smoothly as possible to ensure the right package of support for your child.
So here are a few tips and ideas that worked for us, as well as some invaluable support groups that you can consult for advice tailored to your child's needs, whatever their stage of schooling.

Jacamo Suits Daddy Downs Side Up to a Tee

Bob test runs the SS17 menswear collection from Jacamo

Daddy Downs Side Up is a rare sight, seldom seen in front of the cameras save for the odd display of Dad dancing on a Friday evening during Chatty Natty live on Facebook (watch his catwalk appearance below). He is more often making his influence felt behind the scenes.