I was so proud when the authors of my most respected blog, Special Needs Jungle, asked me to contribute a regular column to their site. This is the site I always refer to when I want to understand issues about statementing, education or changes in SEN law. Tania and Debs really know their stuff and are movers and shakers in the political arena of SEN.
For my first column I thought I might focus on what Down’s Syndrome isn’t.
And what it is.
Posters and leaflets dispelling common myths and setting out facts about Down’s Syndrome are often created wonderfully by charities to distribute to new families. So rather than reinventing the wheel, I thought I’d highlight a few insensitive comments that had been said to me over the years, discuss the myths going on behind them and set a few truths straight. I always find the first of anything difficult to write and this time I wanted to gain the interest of the audience and encourage them to discuss their own experiences of the topic at hand.
I guess writing for someone else felt liberating, because I found myself being a little more outspoken than I usually am on my own blog and the response has been overwhelming, with so many from all over the world throwing similar experiences into the ring.
Special Needs Jungle site here.
Of course, once it was published I thought of many more incidences that I should have included, such as the time I was standing in a queue taking Mia into Pre-school. A mother in her 40s was in front of me, heavily pregnant with her 5th child. I asked how she was feeling and she replied,
"I've demanded all the tests, I wouldn't have time for one like that."
as she stared down at baby Natty in a pushchair.
That kind of comment leaves you in stunned silence and gets blocked from your mind over time. My answer of course should have been that if you don't have time for a baby like Natty, then you don't have time for a baby at all.
How do you deal with insensitive comments about your child?