Thursday 18 March 2021
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Down's Dad's pandemic blogs - Two hosted by the Local Government Information Unit and one by The Ideas Alliance:
Friday 3 April 2020
Advice from the National Autistic Society
Down's Syndrome Association: Easy read advice
Graphic from USA's National Down Syndrome Society
Questions and answers: From various USA Down Syndrome groups
Social Care Institute for Excellence COVID-19: Supporting autistic people and people with learning disabilities
The hand-washing rap from the Purple All Stars
Dame Philippa Russell blog: An older person caring for a younger family member
COVID-19 advice for social care
Guidance for Shared Lives carers and schemes
Friday 20 April 2018
|Andy and Sarah Merriman at the book launch|
Wednesday 11 April 2018
An Easter procession in Mexico saw a young man with Down’s, Juan Pablo, approach an actor playing Jesus. Juan was drawn to the actor because he was walking with head down, appearing upset. He then comforted the actor. The news story is here.
I’m nervous about talking about this because some will see Juan Pablo’s activity as being the result of his ‘mental age’ or lack of capacity to understand. Some have commented that it’s ‘heartwarming’.
But I reject all the above. My Stan would do just the same and I think it reveals something that typically-developed adults don’t always show: massive levels of emotional intelligence. Would you see someone in distress and then take it upon yourself to ignore social norms and go and comfort them? Stan does this all the time. If someone’s upset he pushes everyone else out of the room and becomes the shoulder to cry on.
So I’m making a plea for people not to jump to conclusions about why someone, packing an extra chromosome, might approach a sad-looking person and attempt to help them.
In the comments after the article people do say they find it beautiful and heartwarming but I am much more interested in the person who describes the action as 'courageous compassion'. Once again people with Down's show us that their lives are more complex than many think they are - and that's certainly my lived experience.
Monday 19 February 2018
I was asked to comment on all of this and did so on Radio 5 Live. And then, the following Saturday, Reverend Rob Marshall went on Radio 4's Thought for the Day and talked about my 5 Live interview. My main point was that, on top of the Church of England's suggestion that people get good information when they have a diagnosis, why not come and meet Stan or someone else with Down's Syndrome.
And then the Pope got Down's with the kids. A girl with Down's got up during a regular papal service and went towards the Pontiff. Security men quickly moved in to take her back to her Mum. The Pope stopped them and told her to sit next to him. She did just that and Pope Francis continued his homily, holding her hands.
It's reassuring to hear this mood music from religious figures. And it's not just about the - at-times - tired old debate about pro-choice / pro-life that the church is so often associated with. All of this is, hopefully, pro-information and also showing positive images of Down's Syndrome - and I'm comfortable with that.
Thursday 8 February 2018
Stan and I were walking back home from the barber shop. A woman was berating a group of school pupils for playing football on the street. But as we arrived it all changed; one of them recognised Stan from primary school days. And we all had a lovely chat.
Stan had just been for a haircut, where everyone knows him. We'd been on the bus, where no one knew him but by the end of the ride, two men in their early twenties were his best friends.
And it struck me that Stan is well known in the community. I'm often approached in the supermarket by someone who was Stan's supporter for, say, a week, a few years ago. He can leave an impression with so many people.
But it's his former primary school friend that I'm thinking about today. At that school everyone was encouraged to learn Makaton signing and everyone just knew Stanley. Other young people might not know how to react when they meet someone with a learning disability. That lad did. Because Stan had been a normal part of his primary education.
And I like to think that Stan teaches lots of people in our community lots of things about tolerance, understanding and the joy of life, every single day.
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