What it's like to be the parent of a child with a learning disability. The blog was created in 2005 and discusses anything to do with Down Syndrome

Sunday, 23 April 2017

The book, the audiobook & the podcast

Down's with the kids - The book / Audiobook / The podcast

Talking to the media about your cause: a survival guide. Podcast #5

Do you wish you had the confidence to speak to the media and raise awareness for your cause? 

Listen on Soundcloud >>>

Listen on YouTube >>>

For this edition of the podcast I’m sharing some of my tips on talking to the media. I used to work at the BBC and elsewhere and also have done many interviews raising awareness about Down’s Syndrome. But you don’t need all that experience. You can do it too. I speak to a care leaver who’s done a few interviews – and a film-maker, who helps you with what to do when recording equipment’s thrust at you. Print / online / radio / TV - why shouldn't it be you telling the world your views? Down's with the kids - the blog and book, can be found here downswiththekids.blogspot.co.uk/

Music is kindly provided by www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music. Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Not in a huff: Down's Syndrome awareness week

We're really pleased with the filming and editing that the Huffington Post have done. They've made a film about Stan; they filmed him and other members of the cheerleading group at Saracens rugby club. It was released today to coincide with World Down Syndrome Day and Down's Syndrome Awareness Week. 


Meet Stan, the teen proving Down’s Syndrome doesn’t stop you living life to the full >>>

The film-makers were careful to use words that didn't offend or patronise, like 'suffering from' Down's etc. But also the film gives a good indication, we hope of life with Stan. It can be a challenge, but it's as busy as the cheerleading session. 

Thursday, 9 March 2017

"It's OK to say 'retarded'" says comedian Louis CK. And then he makes his big mistake...

Some comedians use the term ‘retarded’ and they’re currently headlocked in a battle with the R Word campaign. The latter don’t want people to use the word. But comic Louis CK says that it’s OK to employ it. He justifies it in a YouTube video - and I have to warn you that even if you’re not easily offended, this is a tough listen. (Warning: Offensive swearing)


You hear a recording of a young man with learning difficulties, who says he's upset about hearing the R Word. Louis CK responds: “I doubt that he was offended by the word. I think that somebody told him to say it.” 

Is this a persuasive argument? The older I get the less I want to see the world as 'prescriptive' - and so not everyone has to be offended by the R Word, just because someone tells them to. And Louis CK makes a case for saying that the word has been hijacked by the families and carers of people with learning disabilities. He says that people don’t mean to offend those with learning difficulties when they use ‘retard’. 

"I don't mean you"

However, the suggestion is that people with learning disabilities couldn’t possibly understand the nuances and aims of the campaign to tackle the use of the R Word. Let’s sum up what Louis CK is saying: “They wouldn’t possibly understand.” And I find that deeply offensive; it's an assumption and a mistake. Another comedian on the YouTube recording says: “He doesn’t understand what he’s saying.”

Some people don’t have the capacity to understand. But many do. And so it's offensive to those people with learning difficulties who are genuinely troubled by the use of the R Word; because they’ve worked out for themselves what they believe is and isn't offensive.




I appreciate that Louis CK's at least tried to justify himself. But I care less about his use of the R Word than his lazy assumption that it won't offend people because everyone with intellectual disabilities is the same; ie unable to have a view on this subject.  

When is society going to realise that people with learning disabilities have opinions, thoughts, aspirations, hopes and yes, feelings? 

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Stan's 15: why completing the crossword became important on his birthday

Happy birthday 
I was stuck on the final clue: 'Heated to destroy bacteria'. 11 letters. About five times a year I complete the i crossword, without cheating. And here I was, about to 'complete-without-cheat', on Stan's 15th birthday. But there was no way I was going to get this fiendish clue. And then I had an out-of-body experience. 

First though, going back a decade-and-a-half ago, when Stan was a few months old, we sat by his hospital bed willing him to come back to us. Down's Mum spent the whole time egging him on to recover from two bouts of heart surgery. Breathing life into him. Willing him on. 

And, 15 years later, here I was on the Piccadilly Line, and I suddenly realised that I had to get this clue. I could do it. I could will it. And I did it. And we did it in 2002. And we're just so grateful that Stan's in our lives. Happy birthday mate. 





Thursday, 26 January 2017

Podcast: Down's Syndrome and employment


This episode it's time to look at employment for people with Down's Syndrome - Getting jobs is still a huge challenge for people like my Stan (although look - he's ready!) but let's travel to North Carolina, Boston and Derbyshire to hear from people with DS who are in the workplace. Attitudes are changing and it starts, not with what barriers are in place, but with what’s possible. I've got stories about how people, who have Down's, are getting into work and becoming more accepted in society.

It's a podcast about employment and Down's Syndrome.