A mother’s thoughts on Down Syndrome

I met with Kellie some time ago to take some gorgeous glammed up photos of her and her beautiful daughter.  Kellie had shared with me that her daughter had Down Syndrome.  That didn’t matter to me as something to focus on.  What struck me about her daughter was her absolutely gorgeous auburn hair and her beautiful beautiful smile!  I see the person first and foremost…..always……regardless of their appearance, their occupation, their disability or their fears.  These two were an absolute dream to photograph.  Because of my past occupation as a Psychologist, I also like to get to know my clients and to understand their personal story.  That is why I have asked Kellie a few questions about Down Syndrome, as I think it is a totally misunderstood condition.  Knowledge is power.  And yet without downplaying the words below, I am always drawn to that photo of them both.  Those smiles just light up the room!  All women and young ladies deserve to feel beautiful and be photographed feeling beautiful!

Look at this amazing Mother and Daughter!  Amazing because they truly shine with beauty inside and out, and you can really see the joy and love that they feel!

WHAT IS DOWN SYNDROME?

Down Syndrome – or Trisomy 21- is a chromosomal anomaly resulting in the additional full or partial copy of chromosome 21 and occurs at conception.  Approximately 1 in 800 babies born, have Down Syndrome.  If you ask my Dad for an explanation of Down Syndrome, he will tell you that they are normal people with the sh*t gene removed!

WHAT ARE THE MISCONCEPTIONS THAT PEOPLE OFTEN HAVE ABOUT DOWN SYNDROME?

That children/people with Down Syndrome can’t learn: Children with DS can and do learn – sometimes at a slower pace than their peers – but learn they do.  Many children with DS attend mainstream schools successfully.

That people with Down Syndrome can’t lead normal lives: Many people with DS live independently, work and contribute to their community.

When Olivia was born, one of my fears was that she would always be completely dependent on us for everything.  She proves me wrong everyday and sometimes I wish she wasn’t quite so independent!!  A mother of a child with Down Syndrome once wisely told me – have high, but realistic expectations of your child, and they will rise to them.

HOW DOES YOUR DAUGHTER MANAGE LIVING WITH IT ON A DAILY BASIS?

Olivia requires minimal supervision when she undertakes certain tasks – like showering and shopping – but she is very independent minded and usually wants to try things herself.  She gets very frustrated when she can’t do something, but she perservers until she masters it.

WHEREABOUTS DO YOU SEEK HELP ABOUT THIS CONDITION?

The Down Syndrome Association of Queensland is the best source for accurate, up to date information.  They will provide you with as much or as little support and advice as you want.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST THANKFUL FOR IN YOUR FAMILY AND DAILY LIFE?

I’m thankful that Olivia is healthy and happy and is progressing well in her life.  I’m also forever grateful for the Special School Olivia attends and the teachers she has there.  But mostly, I’m thankful that she is ours and for the joy and meaning she has brought into our lives.

WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES AND DREAMS FOR YOUR DAUGHTER IN THE FUTURE?

For her to be a happy, contributing member of her community and just for her to give her best at whatever she wants to do in life.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST THING THAT YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR DAUGHTER?

Her spunk!!!

WHAT IS HER MOST FAVOURITE THING TO DO?

Cheerleading.  She does it every Saturday.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT YOU WOULD LIKE PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT THIS SYNDROME?

That having a child with Down Syndrome is not a life sentence – in fact, it’s been life enhancing.  Seeing life through Olivia’s eyes has been the best education for us and we’ve met so many amazing and inspiring people because of her.  Wouldn’t have missed it for the world. 

WORK WITH LOUISE