Stoke-on Trent suffers from a bad press, but here at The Odd Sock Diary we are in the business of challenging negative stereotypes, so we are introducing Freddie to the culture and heritage of our home town – and we’d like you to join us.The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery has the biggest collection of fine ceramics in the U.K. – even better than the V&A. Mind you, they almost had one less – moments after this picture was taken, Freddie was in the display and all the alarms were going off. It’s a good job I’ve got nerves of steel and a brass neck! #thinkagain #sot2021 

#proudtobestoke #culture #downsyndrome #post40blogger #SENblogger #mummyblogger

A Woman’s Right to Choose

We talk about ‘a woman’s right to choose’. Eight and a half years ago I exercised my ‘woman’s right to choose’ to the fullest extent. I chose to continue with my pregnancy knowing that my child would have Down’s Syndrome.

I am a rational adult. Given accurate and balanced information (that’s another story in itself) I am perfectly capable of evaluating the data and weighing up the pros and cons of any situation or argument. I made a conscious, rational choice in the full knowledge of what I was doing.
I made my choice knowing that I would not have to sacrifice my life, because nothing feels like a sacrifice when you have made the right choice.
I made my choice knowing that my son would not be a burden to me; he would be my child. Yes, I would have to look after him for longer, and he would always need more help than most, but he would bring me just as much joy, and love, and pride, as his brother and sister.
I made my choice in the knowledge that my son need not be a burden to you, the taxpayer, when he grows up (let’s face it, that’s what you mean when you talk about a burden on ‘the state’ or ‘the NHS’). We, his parents, are rational adults – we would plan ahead for his future, for when we are no longer here. I made my choice in the knowledge that my family also pays its share of tax (we don’t begrudge extra care to others who need more than we do, not even those who have smoked, drunk, or drugged themselves into an early decline – everyone has their frailties. And while we’re talking about cost to the state, let’s consider how few, if any, adults with Down’s Syndrome will end up in prison – it’s a valid point).
 I made my choice aware that my life would not perfect: it never has been, but then, whose is? Life does not have to be perfect to be happy. When you make the choice that is right for you, it is much easier to find moments of contentment day-to-day: this is the root of happiness.
So, if you see me and my son hand-in-hand in the supermarket or at the park, please accept that this is what a ‘woman’s right to choose’ sometimes looks like.

Because a ‘choice’ where only one alternative is deemed acceptable, is no choice at all.

16/12/16 Christmas Jumper Day

So, that’s Freddie packed off to school for the last day of term, a turkey dinner with his chums from Class 3, and his FOURTH Christmas jumper day (all fundraisers). Oh well, at least he’s getting his wear out of it. And he does love a Christmas jumper – here’s an old post about Freddie and his Festive knitwear:

6/12/16 The Candlestick Carousel

When your candlestick becomes a carousel …

Freddie is ‘suffering’ from more and more frequent bouts of imagination. 

We’ve been waiting a long time for this skill to develop (trust me – imaginitive play is a skill, and an important one). I did worry that he might never develop it, especially since he tends to choose to play alone rather than cooperatively with other children, although we, and his school have tried to encourage this: he will play quite happily alongside others, though. 

I have spoken to the LD nurse from CAMHS about the possibility that Freddie could have autism traits. She brought along the basic assessment that her Psychologist colleagues use, and we went through it at home. Afterwards we both agreed that it’s design didn’t really take into account children who already have developmental delays and communication difficulties due to other, specific causes. 

I asked her what the likely plan of action would be if he did have autism traits. As CAMHS are already involved, and Freddie already attends SEN school, she explained, then any course of action wouldn’t differ much from what we are already doing. So we decided not to pursue a definitive diagnosis at this point in time.

I’m not sure whether his lack of play skills is attributable to autism tendencies, or to his developmental delay, which is more profound, perhaps, than it first appears to be. I not sure whether or not the distinction matters, now that we know that he can develop these skills.

I predict Christmas Day will be spent with the whole family lying on their bellies on floor, playing with cars and building Lego. And enjoying it!

Some people take time to grow into their play skills. Others take time to grow out of them. 

#notsuffering #worldWITHdowns #lego #downssyndrome#mummyblogger #pblogger #SENblogger

30/11/16 Giving Up.

Today I have given up any pretence at all that I am some kind of Alpha Mummy, or that I can do this …

… and bought a ready-made costume for Freddie to wear in the school Christmas concert. 

He is following in his brother’s footsteps, and playing a Wise Man/King. I am not the sort of mother whose children usually get given a part in the nativity, but as it happened, big brother H was the only child in his nursery class who could actually say ‘Frankincense’ that year (there’s a reason for the ‘Stoke Speaks Out scheme’). Big sister never got a part, because she went to Catholic school, and although we’re Catholic, we’re not Catholic enough (only three children,you see). 

In respect of the fact that we were at least trying, she was once granted the opportunity to stand on the edge of the ‘stage’ as ‘dressing’ wearing  a white plastic pedal-bin liner trimmed with tinsel and a pipe-cleaner on her head; if you were one of the poor sods who were among the small percentage of other faiths the schools were obliged to, you could only ever hope to sit cross-legged in the gritty dust at the edge of the hall, and join in with the songs.

Not that I got to see her ‘performance’. The front row of benches was, by tacit consent, the sole preserve of what I used to call ‘The Mum Mafia’. Every year I swore that the next year I would write ‘reserved’ on a bunch of Tena pads, sneak into the hall before anyone else hit there and staple them to front seats (because with upwards of six or seven children apiece continence probably wasn’t a virtue any of them possessed in any sense of the word). I did, however, have the privilege some years later, of being sat among a bunch of ‘Stage Coach’ parents at a County music competition the year my daughter’s school choir won. The looks on their faces when they realised that they’d paid all those fees for the best Performing Arts education, and their kids had lost to a volunteer High school choir who rehearsed in their lunch break; you could almost see the money draining out of their hands along with the colour from their faces.

Anyway, I digress. 

By the time you’ve sourced some suitably ‘kingly’ material, plus bits of sparkly self-adhesive tat to jazz up a cardboard crown (which is totally wrong anyway, because everyone* knows the three kings were probably actually astronomers from the school at Babylon, tut!), you end up spending more than a ready-made one costs. And that’s without taking into account the stress of dragging out your old sewing machine, blowing off the dust to find you never replaced the needle you broke last time, then discovering that the lovely,shiny fabric you spent a fortune on is too slippery to machine-sew anyway. And then you end up spending so much time making it that by the time you’ve finished it, the little darling/bu***r has selfishly grown and it doesn’t fit.

So I bought one. So there. Right, that’s that job done – pass us an Asda mince pie, I’ve earned it. That’s right, a ready-made one. Omega Mummy and proud 😉

Is Freddie Anxious: A Firefly Garden post.

It is true to say that the families of children face greater challenges than the average, but those challenges vary widely between one family and the next. We have been very lucky with Freddie’s physical health so far (touch wood). When it comes to behaviour, however, it’s a different can of worms – Freddie can be very challenging. Some would say that’s down to bad parenting rather than Down’s, but I’ve not parented Freddie any differently than my older children who have always been very well behaved (by the time you get to your third, your overall parenting style is pretty well established). After 14 months on a waiting list we now have some input from the CAMHS LD team. It’s great to have their support, but I’m finding that many of the techniques they recommend are things I’m already doing. Here’s a post I wrote recently for Firefly Community about Freddie’s behaviour and how I might be able to get a handle on tackling it: