Tuesday 16 October 2018

Thank you for slaying our ignorance

Sir -- Bethany Rose Manley is eight months old. She has spiky blonde hair and big round blue eyes. She's quiet like her mum, my sister Gina, and spends a lot of her time observing, mostly her big brother Fiachra who is nearly two. She smiles when you tickle her under her chin. She loves her grub. Oh, and she has Down Syndrome.

I mentioned that Bethany has DS last because it comes first in the "ignorant" people's book (as it did in mine before Bethany came into my life). Brendan O'Connor told his story so well in the Sunday Independent last week. His experience was so raw but that's what made it perfectly familiar.

For the benefit of all those people who said the wrong thing to Brendan and Sarah and all those who will say the wrong thing: Yes, Bethany and Mary have features of Down Syndrome but it does not define who they are. If you're born with asthma, are you then defined as an asthmatic baby? DS is a condition, it's not who Bethany is. She's a little baby with DS. She is not a Down Syndrome or a "Downs" baby.

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