Category Archives: Uncategorized

School’s out

In exactly one and a bit years Eilidh will start school. It would be fair to say I’m anxious about it.

I banned both kids from getting older but as ever they have chosen to ignore me. Rory now wants product in his hair (he’s a Dapper Dan man) and last night told me he has ‘quit’ his first girlfriend (because she won’t play with him anymore). FFS, what happened to my wee buddy?

Eilidh, likewise, is marching on relentlessly.  It feels like only yesterday we were bringing her home from hospital.  It’s all headed in one direction though.  While I still consider myself a new dad, the reality is it won’t be long before one of them is sneaking bottles of Malbec from my wine rack and swapping it for 2 litres of White Lightning on street corners.

But before all that, and back to the point, Eilidh will make the transition from the protective and amazing cocoon that is her nursery and start to brave the big, bad and very real world.

It’s been on my mind a lot this week because we had our 6 monthly progress meeting where we review Eilidh’s milestones with her support team.  She’s met and exceeded all her goals and now all the focus turns to readiness for school.

It’s a whole new world for Lynn and I, but one that we’re not afraid to face into.  My thought processes are mixed, rambling and probably irrational and I crave a certainty for Eilidh that I know we can’t achieve.

I want the very best for Eilidh.  It goes without saying, she’s my daughter and all parents want the best for their children.  But what is best for Eilidh?  There seems to be two obvious routes – either through mainstream or at a school for kids with Additional Support Needs (ASN).

My instinct says mainstream.  This way Eilidh gets treated as ‘normal’ as possible.  She learns so much from being with her peer group at nursery, constantly observing and picking up language and behavioural prompts.  She would go to the same school as Rory, a place that she is already familiar with, and indeed is somewhat of a star attraction in the playground at home time!

On the other hand if her needs are so specific that she can’t be properly supported in mainstream then maybe ASN would be better.  These schools are geared up for the additional support needs she may have. But what if the best is miles away?  Would I uproot the family and move them to get Eilidh the best opportunities.  Lynn and I long ago committed that we would not allow things to negatively impact Rory.  He loves his school and has great friends there so that would not be fair to him.

If it is to be mainstream, what level of support will Eilidh require?  Does the school have that support available?  Budget cuts have hit hard and therefore is not as freely available as before.  Could I pay for additional support in school?  Would I need to sell Rory to pay for this!?

I am trying to approach this as positively as I can. My starting point is one of optimism – there’s nothing we will come up against that we can’t work through. We’re at the start of the journey, and I’ve got a lot to ask and learn about.  I’m probably going to annoy quite a few people in my quest to help Eilidh reach her potential, but then, my girl deserves nothing less.

Dave

31st March 2017

Why we need charity

Lynn and I were lucky enough to attend the DS Scotland Fundraising Ball in Glasgow last Saturday night.  I hadn’t really thought too much about what the night would entail, other than indulging in too many drinks along with some great chat at a table full of my friends.

In the end, my friends chat was probably average at best, but the headache the next day suggests the first thought was probably true.

What I hadn’t banked on was how emotional the evening would be, from listening to other parents talk on stage about their challenges to the CEO’s speech describing her pride in the team at DS Scotland.

It made me reflect on why I support Down’s Syndrome Scotland.  Granted, my daughter has Down’s Syndrome (and we live in Scotland), but I haven’t really had to rely on them for support.

One parent gave a fantastic speech and described her journey.  She talked of her daughters recent diagnosis of autism on top of Down’s, all at the same time as the usual girl-starts-high-school stresses were in full flow.  It struck me how steep the road is in front of us as a family.  I marvelled at how she talked with such strength and there was an almost matter-of-fact way that she faced into so many complex issues.  It was a glimpse into a future that I’m nowhere near ready for.

I understand that Eilidh has challenges, but I’ve come to terms with them gradually and we’ve all grown as a family together.  What I struggle to do is look forward 5, 10 or 20 years.  I don’t want Eilidh to face the struggles or prejudices that I know she is will.  Lynn and I won’t be able to do it on our own.  We have a strong circle of friends, but even then, there will come a time where we need other help.

And this is why the charity is so important to me.  I might not be directly using their services today, but they are always there providing tailored support to other families, creating social opportunities, influencing government policy and generally raising awareness and acceptance.  They are relentless in their quest to help people realise their potential but they rely almost entirely on donations and fund raising in order to do so.

So if you can, please donate on my Just Giving page (see the link below).  Every pound you donate gets you an entry in Eilidh’s raffle.  The generosity in gift donations that I have received have been overwhelming and I really hope I can justify this by raising a large amount for the charity.  Not only do you have a chance of winning an awesome prize, but you can feel good in supporting the team at DS Scotland.

Thanks for helping.

Dave

10th March 2017

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Year of the Dad

When my daughter Eilidh was born 3 years ago it would be fair to say that my experience was not great. Down’s Syndrome was something I knew nothing about and after reading, through tears, the pile of booklets dumped on us in the hospital at 3am, I was utterly terrified by it.  My expectations of what Eilidh could achieve were destroyed.

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Nursery

Eilidh’s nursery are shortlisted for a nursery award on Friday night.  I wrote a commendation for them to use as part of their submission.  Fingers crossed for the whole team…

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Always the bridesmaid?

Tomorrow I have the honour of walking my little girl down the aisle.

True, it is only because she still needs a helping hand to walk and because her mummy will be otherwise engaged as a bridesmaid, but it’s symbolic nonetheless.  Eilidh is to be Flower Girl at Auntie Carol’s wedding and I couldn’t be more proud.

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50 Shades

Many of Eilidh’s various medical tests are monotonous.  This is not to take away from the fact that we are privileged in this country to have such thorough health care for Eilidh.  And it is of course no reflection on the amazing professionals that patiently put up with us and our frequent stupid questions.  It’s just that nothing is ever conclusive.  If her results were any more grey they would be… well, black – but that’s probably not the analogy i’m looking for.

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Eilidh Normal Patterson

Eilidh is 3 on Sunday.  Unbelievable.  3 years ago tonight I had no idea what Down’s Syndrome was.  It has, however, dominated my life since then.  That’s not actually true, as I don’t really think about it as a phrase, a condition or a thing anymore.  It’s just part of our life now and part of the little monster that is Eilidh.  I’ve learned a lot in this time.

Mostly I’ve learned that Eilidh is normal.

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downwithmum!

By Eilidh’s mum, Lynn.

When I told friends about Dave’s plan for his 21 blogs for DS awareness I was often asked when my ‘guest blog’ would be.  My response was always “not a chance!!”  Those who know me well, will be well aware that an ability to make a point – and stick to it – in less than 1000 words is well beyond my capabilities.  Numbers are my thing, not words.  Anyway, thanks to the overwhelming response from friends – and strangers – my appearance as a guest blogger was never actually required.  It did get me thinking though and despite my better judgement I decided to try to give it a go….

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Party time

Boys and girls were segregated at my high school for gym class, or P.E. as we called it.  This was a good thing because at our school the boys were made to undertake P.E. stripped to the waist.  Anyone who dared enter the hall with a t-shirt on was immediately scolded and made to remove their top.

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2.4 Children

I bought a new dining table about a year ago.  It extends in an awesome way that  would impress Alan Partridge.  I was trying to find somewhere to sit and use the laptop but I can’t sit at that nice big dining table as it is currently both a major train depot and lego building site.

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