'My boy Michael gives people hope that there is a future ...'
Michael Gannon (30) has been a reporter for RTE's Afternoon Show and is a member of pantomime and drama groups in his home town of Newbridge, Co Kildare, but there was a time when his mother May feared he wouldn't learn to speak at all.
"I never thought I would see the day when I would say 'Would you for God's sake shut up!'" she laughs. "Which happened. In the early days, you can't imagine that happening. You can't really picture your own child as an adult."
As reading is a huge tool in the development of language for people with Down Syndrome, May introduced Michael to reading very early. "And I labelled doors, chairs, ordinary, everyday things," she says.
"My other children would say that if you stood still long enough in our house, you were labelled!"
It paid off for Michael. An articulate interview on Ireland AM on TV3 got him spotted by a producer in RTE. He went on to interview the likes of Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody and rugby stars Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell.
"I wasn't nervous," says Michael. "I am very natural with people and used to talking to them. In the school I went to in Newbridge I was always treated as an equal -- they saw the person I am."
Michael continues to astound his family.
"We couldn't have imagined he'd be sitting in a television studio as calm as he does," says May.
"Michael gives people hope that there is a future."