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Navigating the Down Syndrome world

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I met Jo when she was a teenager and I was serving with The Salvation Army in Australia. Jo was 23 when her second child was born with Down syndrome, just a few days before her eldest child’s first birthday. As well as being Down syndrome, Jo’s son is autistic and also has a severe congenital visual impairment.

When asked what it’s like to be the mum of a Down syndrome child, Jo says, ‘I have learnt to trust my instincts. If something doesn’t seem right, I listen to that feeling. That intuition has saved his life on several occasions, such as when a seemingly mild illness has turned out to be far worse.’

Jo says she’s become more accepting of people because of her son—more patient, more determined and more accepting of her abilities. ‘As a parent, I feel less competitive than what I see amongst my peers.’

Any of us would see that raising a Down syndrome child isn’t an easy road, but Jo says it’s brought far more positives than negatives. ‘I have met some of the most amazing people, not least of all my beautiful son. My life is richer because of him. My relationships are more real because of him. My other children are more compassionate, and generally more tolerant, than I ever could have imagined. I firmly believe I am a better person because of him.’

As debate grows around whether science will make Down syndrome a thing of the past, it’s important to hear from people like Jo. ‘A diagnosis of Down syndrome is not the end of the world; it’s the beginning of learning about a whole new one reserved for only a few. I almost feel privileged that I have had a chance to see into that world, and to walk with my son as he learns to navigate ours.’

Christina Tyson
Editor

Bible Verse

Psalm 139:14 New International Version
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made …

Ngā Waiata 139:14
Ka whakawhetai ahau ki a koe; he mea whakawehi, he mea whakamiharo tōku hanganga …

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