Using Special iApps to Toilet Train Without Going Potty

A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting inspirational duo Bev and Colin Dean. 

Special iApps are a fun, visual way to learn

These committed parents have developed a comprehensive and inexpensive set of Apps for children with additional needs. Their son has Down's syndrome and they created Special iApps to help with his communication needs. 

The apps can be used to help children at various levels of literacy, beginning with picture matching, working with words and then sentence level stories.

Here, one Mum describes the Special iApps role in helping her daughter potty train:

Let's see Adults with Disabilities in Advertising?

The tide is shifting. More and more companies are following the lead of household names such as Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury's and including young models with disabilities in their marketing campaigns. Hoorah!

Seb fronts Marks and Spencer campaign

Natty joins Sainsbury's Back to School Campaign

This week our little Natty's face once more peeked from the pages of Frugi's catalogue, as she advertised a glorious yellow cotton cardigan. 

A Different Pair of Eyes by Robert Harris

Today I have the enormous pleasure of sharing an incredible poem sent to me by one very proud Mum. Kate's son Robert has written a poem about his sister Shelley's unique worth, and what she brings to his life. I have a lump in my throat. I think you'll love it too.

Protective Siblings: Robert and Shelley Harris

A Different Pair of Eyes A world of sight and sound to share Combined with love and thought and care A wide kind gentle loving stare Through oh so different eyes.

Win 2 Tickets to Up Down Man

A pair of tickets to see Up Down Man in Salisbury on Saturday 5 March at 2.45pm

A couple of years ago I sat laughing, sobbing and shaking with emotion alongside my Mum and with Tom from The Future's Rosie in the audience, as we watched Up Down Boy, the most powerful stage show imaginable, featuring a young man growing up with Down's syndrome.


You can read my 5* review of Up Down Boy here.

I am now excited to announce that a sequel has been created and we have two complimentary tickets to be won. Just complete the Rafflecopter form below to be in with a chance.

Good luck!

We asked Heather Williams (Artistic Director of Myrtle Theatre Company who also plays Matty’s mother in both plays) to explain a bit more about the development process and how Nathan has been involved:

"Up Down Boy was written from the mother’s perspective and was largely autobiographical. The sequel, Up Down Man, offered the opportunity to create a piece of theatre reflecting the thoughts, feelings and experiences of someone with a learning disability. To that end we placed Nathan at the centre of the creative process from the outset.

During an initial research and development period, Nathan was encouraged to lead the process at every opportunity - from taking physical warm-ups, to guiding improvised scenes, choosing characters for the actors to play and deciding on scene content. The result was a freedom to create and play – and a great deal of joy in the room.

It also became very clear that Nathan's greatest desire was to "speak" through his body - that dance and movement gave him the opportunity to communicate with depth and profundity in a way that he finds challenging with the spoken word. He had sessions with five exceptional young dancer/choreographer/movement artists, developing his skills in contemporary dance, street dance, ballet, line dancing, ballroom dancing and contact improvisation. Nathan relished these sessions but more importantly showed astonishing alacrity in learning new skills and techniques, new ways of moving, of expressing himself.

It was thrilling to see how the time and extra resources allowed Nathan to express himself in a way we didn't think possible. The speed he developed as a creative artist was remarkable."

Up Down Man
A Myrtle Theatre Company and Salisbury Playhouse production
The Salberg at Salisbury Playhouse
Wednesday 24 February to Saturday 12 March
Press performance: Thursday 25 February at 7.45pm

Nathan Bessel stars as Matty in Up Down Man

Sick with Nerves

This week I am catching a plane to fly North of the border. I hate flying. 

I'm going to a large and beautiful city.
But I'm a country bumpkin who will find this daunting.

I'm taking Natty with me.
Now there we have added a whole new list of dimensions to consider, not least the extra on-board bag of entertainment and spare clothes. 
*rushes off to pack the spare clothes in the on-board bag, just in case of travel sickness*

Natty trains student midwives and nurses
I've been asked to be a keynote speaker at the NHS Education Scotland student nurse and midwife conference or #NESLDAN16

This is where we can create real change and work with medical professionals to ensure equal care and support for all. It is a huge honour and I am determined to get it right.

But 2 BBC crews are coming to film my talk. The talk I haven't quite finished writing.  I'll be interviewed by a famous comedian who has a son with Down's syndrome.

How did life become this surreal?

As if things weren't scary enough, now I feel the pressure to really get this right. I'm aware that what I say could be cut down to one phrase, so every phrase must count.

Vote for Downs Side Up in the UK Blog Awards

Vote for Downs Side up in the Health and Social Care section of the UK Blog Awards 2016

Despite being enormously proud of our little blog and the people it has introduced us to and the changes it has helped bring about together with many others, I get enormously embarrassed about asking for votes when it is considered for an award. 

So much so that often even my Mum isn't aware.

So without shouting about why I think you should vote for us, I will just say simply being in these awards really does help spread our message and reach those that need it. 

If you have enjoyed any of our posts, or been made to think a little deeper about the way you perceive Down's syndrome, you can click the link below. 

Voting ends Monday 25th January 2016

P.s. If you see my mum can you let her know ;)

Sibling's Short Story - A Carers UK Prize Winner

'I agree that having a brother or sister with Down's syndrome makes you feel special. I do anyway.'

Emma Sterland wins prize in Carers UK Creative Writing Competition

"How can you expect to find anything when your room is in such a mess?" I moaned. Tired and at the wrong end of a long day, our eldest was reluctantly looking for her Physics text book so she could begin her homework.