Matt’s Story, by his mum, Helen
I have no idea where to start, when writing this. When it comes to Matt, sometimes I just think it would be easier to write a book! He’s the most fascinating, hilarious, complicated young man I’ve met. There literally is, and will only ever be, one Matt! Matt is 18. I didn’t know he would be born with Down syndrome, but he gave me plenty of clues as to his personality, from a very young age.
When I was pregnant, at 16 weeks, I could see my belly moving as he wriggled and flipped around in there! He wasn’t content to wait to come out either. At 37 weeks, he decided he’d had enough, and despite the midwife saying he wouldn’t be here for a while, he arrived 20 minutes later, after just 3 pushes! And instead of needing any additional help, despite having an AVSD heart condition which could have made him really poorly, he was well enough to come home on the same day as he was born!
Maybe it was little surprise that he was given additional diagnoses of ADHD and Autism, as he got older! He’s a little whirlwind, and was an exhausting child! Lol. But, thankfully, now he’s an adult, he’s slowing down a little, and even starting to listen a bit! Matt is 100% himself. He doesn’t care what anyone else thinks! He just loves life, and enthusiastically embraces everything he has the opportunity to take part in. He loves playing sports – literally all of them – and has excellent hand-eye coordination.
His favourites are basketball, tennis, badminton, cricket, football, hockey and swimming. His sense of adventure is wonderful and you will never find Matt refusing to try something new. Riding his bike, going up a climbing wall, driving a go kart, whizzing down a ski slope or going on the fastest rides at Alton Towers are all things he loves. And he is constantly seeking that next adrenaline rush! He also loves going to watch Nottingham Forest play at the City Ground, and his joy when they score is amazing. Sadly, this season so far, he’s not had much to celebrate – but we always live in hope!
Matt’s other biggest joy is flirting! He’s a total womaniser! And amazingly he gets away with it! I have no idea why all the girls seem to like him, but any opportunity to hold a young woman’s hand, or get a cuddle, and he is straight in there! Despite many people telling him that one girlfriend is plenty enough, it falls on deaf ears! His other biggest love is slapstick comedy! I’m guessing this is due to his lack of empathy because of his autism, but he finds it hilarious when people trip up or fall over. Or when babies cry, or something tragic happens in a film! This used to get us in so much trouble when he was younger!
I was so embarrassed watching Frozen, when Ana was zapped and froze into a ice statue. The whole cinema had gone silent … And then came this huge, totally irreverent laugh from Matt! And the more I told him to stop, the louder he got! But Matt doesn’t care! He lives his best life, for sure! And there’s no doubt that if you asked him, he would tell you he wouldn’t change a thing. (Ask me, and I’d tell you there was plenty I’d change! Lol. But I’d probably say that’s the same for every parent with a teenage son/daughter! )
It’s not been easy being Matt’s mum! He’s a 24/7 lad, who is awake early every morning (this morning, it was 5am!) and never asleep before midnight, and is like a Duracell bunny every moment in between! As a child, he used to be a runner/eloper which means I have so many stories of epic and very scary escapes he’s made! In fact, I have a book’s worth of crazy stories about him. (Maybe writing that book isn’t such a bad idea?!)Yet, Matt can’t speak a word.
Neither can he read or write. And academic things are the last thing he’s interested in. He can sign, but only words that matter to him – usually one of his activities, foods or girls he fancies! All that kind of stuff just isn’t a priority to him. All that matters to him is that he’s happy and healthy! He is pretty hard work, but the impact he has on people cannot be denied. Everyone loves Matt! Genuinely!
His teachers all tell me that they adore him – as do his sports coaches, PAs, friends and family. I can’t put my finger on why, but people just seem to be drawn to his cheeky character. It’s a pretty amazing that someone can leave that much of an impression, when they can’t even say a word! Matt is so far from the 18 year old man I thought I would have, when I was pregnant, all those years ago.
Despite his love of sports and girls, he’s so far from what you’d imagine in a typical teenager… But that is exactly what makes him so amazing, and why people are so drawn to him! He is just him! He’s Matt! And you either love him or … in fact … there is no other option! You can’t help but love him!