This was originally on the BBC Ouch! Website
Stan was born on 31st January 2002. He was THE child to be born that day with Down’s Syndrome. (There’s one born every day, apparently. About 350 a year). He had two separate heart surgeries at Great Ormond Street in London when he was two-and-a-half years old. He survived that and now he’s included in his brother’s mainstream school in the nursery. I’m Stan’s Dad and I’m dead proud of him. When the Wizard of Ouch asked me to do this blog, I jumped at the chance. I have spoken about Stan before on Ouchhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/writers/stevepalmer/and on the radio. I’ve been interviewed on Radio 4’s the World Tonight and Five Live. The last time I was on radio was with Vanessa Feltz on BBC London 94.9fm, in response to the news story that a woman who killed her “Down’s Son” (as the papers said) did not go to prison. I’ve really enjoyed these occasions, as it’s an opportunity to say that I expect Stan to drive a car, get a job, get married, and move into his own accommodation. If my expectations are too high, it’s only my feelings that can get hurt when Stan doesn’t fulfil his potential. Poor old me! I’ll take the risk! So, Stan is in nursery and next September, will be in school uniform. He uses Makaton sign language and loves “Something Special” with Justin Fletcher on the CBBC channel. The idea is that he can use his hands to express himself, then move on to the spoken word when ready. He’s already using a combination of signs and words. He’s getting on really well with his class mates. The other day, my wife picked Stan up to take him to his speak-and-language session. One of the kids said: “Where’s he going?” My wife said: “To speech session.” The little boy said: “But he doesn’t need it…he uses his hands to speak.” Stan’s part of a loving and close family, with brother, cousins, and three grandparents. It’s really important that we go out as a family and eat out, mainly because it’s a fantastic thing to do, but also because it’s where he’s learning a lot of social skills. I’m no Down’s Syndrome guru. When Craig won Big Brother in 2000, I wondered why he gave the prize money to a friend, who was a woman who had Down’s Syndrome and needed heart surgery. I remember thinking that I would have kept the money myself. What an awful thought. It’s just that having Stan has pointed me in a certain direction. It’s not a direction I may have chosen, in all honesty. But I’m on the boat and headed that way.