Sunday 22 April 2018

'There's no reason why she shouldn't go to college and get a good job'

Five minutes after Aoife Kelleher was born two years ago, doctors told her parents Sinead and Garrett she had Down Syndrome.

"It came as a shock, because she was this wonderful, beautiful baby, but within minutes my maternal instincts kicked in," says Sinead, who lives in Leixlip.

"She was hungry and I needed to feed her and from that moment, the shock melted away. She looked just like her Dad and instantly had him wrapped around her little finger."

The biggest concern was for her health, as children with Down Syndrome are at increased risk of heart defects and other medical problems, but Aoife's tests came back clear and her parents breathed a sigh of relief.

"There were no problems from Day One," says Sinead. "Everybody in our lives have been nothing but positive. I can't go out without somebody coming over to say hello."

Now that Aoife has reached the 'Terrible Twos' stage, the house is being rapidly reorganised. "She's into everything and we have to move ornaments out of harm's way," says Sinead, who was delighted to hear of Seb White becoming the face of Marks and Spencer childrenswear.

"It's lovely to see him being chosen to model and why not? If Aoife were selected to do something similar I'd be delighted. Why shouldn't children with Down Syndrome do exactly the same as other kids?"

Four days a week, Aoife attends a local crèche and on Fridays she goes to the Leixlip baby group run by Down Syndrome Ireland. "It's fantastic!" says Sinead. "This is when she gets to mix with other children with Down Syndrome and she loves it.

"I have high hopes for Aoife's future and hope she doesn't meet any stumbling blocks on her way. There's no reason why she shouldn't go to college and get a good job the same as anybody else.

"Once a month she sees a physiotherapist, speech therapist and home teacher who all assure me that she'll be well able to go to mainstream school.

"As for what career path she chooses when she grows up, so long as she's happy and fulfilled, that's all that matters."

Irish Independent

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