Bethany’s Story, by her mum, Julie
Bethany is a real character, who exploded into our lives just over six years ago. Bethany’s favourite thing, other than TV, is to be with people. Preferably bossing them around! She has a knack of making people comply with her demands without them realising it. Whether that’s wheedling her way onto the doctors chair, forcing the doctor to stand, or to insist that her grandparents and sister participate in the exercise class that she’s running!
It makes us laugh how Bethany will talk to anyone when we are out an about. She regards strangers as being friends that she hasn’t yet met! When she was little she announced her arrival at Sainsbury’s by shouting, “Hello everybody!” at the top of her voice. Nowadays, a shopping excursion involves asking everyone their name, what they’re doing and how old they are. Honestly, she makes us laugh every day!
Bethany also loves school, although she frequently has a strop about going in and leaving! She attends the local mainstream school and has a lovely group of friends. In celebrating her birthday recently, we had seven friends to our house. It was a delight to see them all play together joining in with the games. Whilst Bethany will not be as able as the other children, she is certainly learning and developing.
She is a chatter box and her speech is getting clearer all the time. She can read many words and has started to be more interested in writing. School are very supportive in providing for her extra needs, including a teaching assistant who helps her with the more structured work. I would be creating an overly rosy picture of life with a child with Down Syndrome if I didn’t acknowledge the challenges.
Our main challenges in the past included: induced premature labour; three weeks in the neonatal unit; open heart surgery at 6 months; numerous stays in hospital; and home oxygen for a year. Currently, however, Bethany is in good health. She has a variety of appointments, to make sure that she stays that way and to make sure that she gets the opportunity to develop as much as she can (with the advantage that she can say “ophthalmologist” and knows how to check your chest and back with a stethoscope).
She will have to have heart surgery again in the future when she’s 10-15yrs old. Current challenges include getting her to drink enough, encouraging independence in personal tasks, having a bath and doing her reading. All of these can be problematic due to after school meltdowns, tiredness and stubbornness. Hmmm, I think I also had these problems with her brother and sister when they were 6!