My sister and I

Growing up things were pretty tough for a while. My mother was a single mother looking after young children, including my sister who has Down syndrome. It was not an easy task for her. I always thought my mother was so amazing and I believe she bought us up well. My sister needed, 24-7 care which proved to be difficult at times. We still managed and I helped wherever I could. There were times when my sister run away in the middle of the night, while we were sleeping, and end up in the local MacDonald’s eating someone’s burger, and there were times when she would run away to the police station and drink tea and eat biscuits with them having a jolly old time, and also trying on all the policeman’s hats. There were times when she would throw herself on the ground when we were out in public and sit there for a couple hours without budging. She was very stubborn indeed!. There were times when she would run up to strangers out in public and hug and kiss them, which took many of them by surprise as you can only imagine?, a lot of people were very understanding which was nice to see, but some people were not so kind, but maybe it’s because they didn’t understand what was wrong with her?. There were times when my sister had no fear and would ride her toy bike down the stairs, not realizing she would hurt herself. My sister is an affectionate person and her personality is infectious and amazing and incredibly loving. I can’t also forget the time when she managed to drink an entire bottle of aromatherapy oil whilst at school, which saw her take a trip to the hospital, which she loved, and of course, she was absolutely fine!. Another memory I had growing up was when my sister had found some keys that were hidden out of anyone’s reach, she had unlocked a cupboard and got some hair clippers out and started shaving away at her hair, and by the way, the Clippers had no guard on it!. Needless to say, her hair was a complete and utter mess, but my sister kept looking in the mirror and telling everyone how nice her new hairstyle was! My mother and I were not impressed! Don’t worry though it eventually grew back, but oh boy! That was a huge shock to the system! Growing up I never really understood what Down syndrome meant and to be honest that never really bothered me as I loved my sister so much, and to me she was special and one of a kind. I realized she was different from a young age, but I never once questioned it!. I also thought about how blessed I was to have someone so special and unique in my life. Even though she was older than me, I still felt like the big sister and took care of her as much as I possibly could. Our bond was one of a kind and unbreakable. I will never forget about all the amazing and fun times we shared together. We certainly laughed a lot. I have so many happy memories stored in my heart that I will cherish forever. I really enjoyed growing and spending time with my sister. She means the absolute world to me.

Although we shared many happy times together, there was also some very sad and difficult times as well. During my time in primary and secondary school I was severely bullied all because I had a sister with Down syndrome. I often cried a lot especially in primary school as I was still learning and still so young, and I could not understand why so many young children like me could be so horrible to me about my sister who I loved so much. Because of the bullying and all the hurt it caused me, it started to affect my learning to the point where I had to have a classroom assistant with me in almost all of my lessons which did benefit me greatly, but at that time I felt like I stood out like a sore thumb! Because I was getting special treatment and everyone knew it!. This only made the name-calling much worst. I often thought to myself, how can a young child the same age as me have so much hate for someone because they have a sister who is different, where did all this hate come from?, and who taught them to say such things?. When I got two years five and six the name-calling was unbearable, and other children would say things like, ” Look at Claire she is a div or a spastic just like her sister!. ” Look at Claire she need’s assistance in the classroom because she is stupid like her sister! Some of you may wonder how did so many of my so-called classmates know that I had a sister with Down syndrome?. The simple answer is, for quite some time my mother was a single mother so my sister had to come everywhere with us, and there was this one time when I was in nursery, my mother and my sister dropped me off. I was feeling a little sad about going to school that day, so my mum had to come in for a short while till I settled. I remember all my classmates were sitting on the floor waiting to get the day started, and my sister the character that she sits herself on the ground next to all my classmates. She wanted to spend the day with me and all my classmates!. When it was time to go, my sister made a bit of a fuss, which didn’t go unnoticed!, there was definitely a lot of giggles. You will be surprised what people can remember and use against you later on in life!. The only other explanation I have as to how people knew that I had a sister with Do syndrome, is that some of my classmates lived fairly close to my house and would see my sister out and about, and maybe that is how the rumors spread about my sister? I was almost at the end of year six, I couldn’t wait to leave and start a new school. I was so hurt by all the bullying. After all, it had affected my learning and my school attendance. I still had my nerves and was not sure what the future had in store for me. My mum told me we are going for a meeting at the school today to have a meeting about your transition to secondary school, and at the time, I was not sure what that meant?. In the meeting it was discussed that since I had a classroom assistant throughout my primary school years, and seeing how well it had benefited me, they thought it would be in my best interest to have it throughout secondary school as well. As you can imagine I was not happy about this, because of all the bullying I had received previously. What made things more difficult for me was that I knew that some of the bullies were also going to the same secondary school as me, so I really did not see this going well for me. I started secondary school. I was nervous. The older kids were so big compared to me. At first, it started out well, I was enjoying my time at school, and I was making new friends. But once my classroom assistant came back to help me. The bullying started again too, only this time the name-calling was much worst!. It was horrifying! And incredibly hurtful. I will not tell you the names they used, as they were absolutely disgusting, and should never ever be repeated ! This again affected by learning and ability to make new friends, and my school attendance took a hit as well. I remember trying to tell my teachers about the bullying, but they told me I was just being dramatic, and I was to ignore it. Because I had learning difficulties, I ended up in the classes with other children who were there because they were so naughty and did not want to learn. I could never concentrate! All I wanted to do was learn and get on with my work, but I found it so difficult. I did not enjoy those times. A couple of years passed at school and although it was not perfect still, I started to rise above it all, and try to get on with my learning as good as I could. I was still bullied for all sorts of things, but I tried to ignore it and get on with my school life. Eventually the bullying eased, but was still happening from time to time. During my time at school we moved house a few times. I remember we used to live on quite a busy housing estate, it was a little rough there but the houses were beautiful. I enjoyed living there and made some friends there. Unfortunately there were some very unfriendly people on the estate to, and once again they had seen my sister and had started mimicking how she walked and talked. They would also shout out disgusting names to. While it was mostly children who said and did these nasty things, there was also a few young adults to who were guilty of bullying too. I remember one day, I had enough, this young girl came up to me and started saying horrible things about my sister! I felt so angry, so I slapped her face and then I run off home. On one hand I had stuck up for myself, but then on the other hand, I had used violence to show my anger, and I certainly was not proud of that. From that very day, I had realized that violence is never the answer no matter how angry you are. You should never bring yourself down to the same level as the bully. I grew stronger over time and learned to ignore the bullies. Always remember bullying is Never ok no matter what! And if you, or someone you know is experiencing this, then please speak up!

I have so many happy memories that I shared with my sister growing up. I really enjoyed helping her get ready and doing her hair and makeup, nails, and choosing her clothes for her. I felt like a little hairdresser and a little beautician. I really enjoyed those moments with my sister and helping her feel special. In my eyes, she was already special, but her face glowed when we shared these times together and I could see how happy she was, and that was the best feeling in the world. I really enjoyed playing games with my sister. We enjoyed singing and dancing together, she would always laugh at me when I sang or danced. Her favourite music was the band steps, she would always have it playing so loudly in her bedroom on either her television or her cod player. It was so loud that you could not even hear yourself think! But it was what she loved the most. I enjoyed the hugs she gave me when I was sad, or when I was not feeling well, or when she had not seen me for a little while. When I was unwell She pretended she was my nurse and that she was going to make me all better, she loved to play doctors and nurses. I really love listening to my sister talking me through her week about the activities she had participated in. My sister loves to swim, sing, dance, and she loves to go horse riding, bowling, and she often goes to the day centre to do her arts and crafts. Her social calendar tends to be really busy, and she is always doing something that she enjoys which makes me really happy. I love it when my sister tells me about the holidays she has been on. My sister loves to go to Butlins, and she loves a good disco where she can have a sing and a dance. My sister has nothing but happy memories to tell me which is absolutely amazing. She is full of love, laughs and happiness, and that I believe is a very good place to be. I really enjoyed going shopping with my mum and my sister. My sister would love looking at the clothes and especially the sweets and the chocolate, and let’s face it who doesn’t? When random people walked by, she would smile from ear to ear and shout hello to them all. I really think my sister made a lot of people’s day’s a lot brighter by giving them a big smile and greeting them. Maybe I am biased? , but I have always felt that, when my sister enters a room, she instantly makes it a lot brighter and happier and that is what I love most about her. My sister always made my mum and I giggle when we went to pizza hut or any other restaurant, and she would be saying hello to everyone, especially the waiters, she also liked to boss them around and tell them to hurry up with her drink and food. People who are close to me, and have met my sister over the years, have instantly fallen in love with her character and her charm, and they have always told me that whenever they have spent time with us, it has always been memorable, and happy and that it will be something they never forget, and they will cherish those times for many years to come. To hear these comments from people I know truly feels my heart with so much joy. I believe that God puts special people, like my sister on this earth, to help make our world a better place and to help fill our hearts with love and happiness, and to show us that we should love one another no matter what! I have shared so many great memories with my sister over the years and there is far too many to write down and there is some I want to keep personally to myself. We have certainly had so many amazing and unforgettable time’s together. Despite what people may think about my sister, I always tell them that I enjoyed growing up with my sister, and although we had difficult times, we never once felt she was a burden on us. Instead, she filled our hearts with joy, and lots of love, and lots of laughter, and that indeed is something very special. I was so happy that I could have those special moments with her. Always remember that just because someone is different to you, it does not make them any less human than you.

The definition of Down syndrome (DS), also known as Trilogy 21, is a condition in which a person is born with an extra chromosome. Chromosomes contain hundreds, or even thousands, of genes. Genes carry the information that determines your traits (features or characteristics passed on to you from your parents). With Down syndrome, the extra chromosome causes delays in the way a child develops, mentally and physically. The physical features and medical problems associated with Down syndrome can vary widely from child to child. While some kids with DS need a lot of medical attention, others lead healthy lives. Normally, at the time of conception, a baby inherits genetic information from its parents in the form of 46 chromosomes: 23 from the mother and 23 from the father. In most cases of Down syndrome, a child gets an extra chromosome 21 — for a total of 47 chromosomes instead of 46. It’s this extra genetic material that causes the physical features and developmental delays associated with Down syndrome. Although no one knows for sure why DS happens and there’s no way to prevent the chromosomal error that causes it, scientists do know that women age 35 and older have a significantly higher risk of having a child with the condition. At age 30, for example, a woman has about a 1 in 1,000 chance of conceiving a child with DS. Those odds increase to about 1 in 400 by age 35. By 40 the risk rises to about 1 in 100. Children with Down syndrome tend to share certain physical features such as a flat facial profile, an upward slant to the eyes, small ears, and a protruding tongue. I can tell you that, my sister’s tongue was rather long, as she was always sticking her tongue out at you! Low muscle tone (called hypotonic) is also characteristic of children with DS, and babies, in particular, may seem especially “floppy.” Though this can and often does improve over time, most children with DS typically reach developmental milestones — like sitting up, crawling, and walking — later than other kids. I always noticed how floppy and flexible my sister was, she could wrap both legs around her neck and sit like it for ages, and it would not hurt her one bit! At birth, children with DS are usually of average size, but they tend to grow at a slower rate and remain smaller than their peers. Down syndrome affects children’s ability to learn in different ways, but most have mild to moderate intellectual impairment. Kids with DS can and do learn, and are capable of developing skills throughout their lives. They simply reach goals at a different pace — which is why it’s important not to compare a child with DS against typically developing siblings or even other children with the condition. Children with DS have a wide range of abilities, and there’s no way to tell at birth what they will be capable of as they grow up. Everyone has the very own unique traits and personality. While some kids with DS have no significant health problems, others may experience a host of medical issues that require extra care. Approximately half of all children with DS also have problems with hearing and vision. Hearing loss can be related to fluid build-up in the inner ear or to structural problems of the ear itself. My sister Kerry goes having hearing issues and soon will need hearing aids to assist her with her hearing. While there are many medical issues that can be linked with down syndrome, it does not affect all people who have downs syndrome. There is no reason why they cannot lead long and healthy lives, and if medical issues exist, then there are medical treatments out there to assist with that. My sister has never been able to read and write, but can do simple drawings, and even do her name on dot to dot. She loves art’s and craft’s and really loves her music. There is one particular thing that amazes me about my sister, and that is her amazing memory, she and can talk you through her whole week, sometimes her month in very good detail. I firmly believe, that you, or I, could not do such a thing! I’m not sure about you, but I sometimes do not even remember what I did the day before! Although my sister has Down syndrome and has had some small health issues in the past. I believe that she has been incredibly blessed, and done remarkably well so far in her 34 years of life. I am so proud of her and her achievements in life! My sister Kerry is an incredible human being!

What I learned from my experience growing up was that you should never take anyone for granted, and you should love everyone no matter what. Always remember that all life is precious. Cherish all your memories and speak of them to your loved ones as much as possible. Even though I had hard times growing up, I definitely had so much happier times, because when I spent time with my sister, I instantly forgot all about those sad and horrible moments. I never once questioned why my sister was different, when I was growing up, an explanation was never needed Family is so dear to me. I love my family with everything I have Always told your family how much you love and care about them Hug them tight to Love Claire xoxox

 

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