Tuesday 1 November 2016

Dear Rosie, Thank you.

In the weeks since the BBC documentary A World Without Down's Syndrome? there has been a great deal of discussion around the subject. As with any good debate there have been many opinions shared, however there was one comment I read after an article in one of the leading online news sites that particularly upset me. It upset me because it was uneducated nonsense that someone at a vulnerable time may well read and believe. They were making fleeting statements as if representing 100% of families living with Down's syndrome in their lives.  Implying that all siblings of children with DS suffer and are burdened by it somehow.

I'd like to share with you here a letter that my 13 year old son Harry wrote a couple of weeks ago. The school he attends had asked them to write a 'thank you' letter to someone, literally anyone, it could even be someone they don't know personally like a sports star / musician etc. Harry chose to write his letter to Rosie – A letter which I think goes a fair way to explaining how he feels about his sister and her 'disability', a viewpoint that is real, un-prompted and the voice of real-life experience and not one of an outsiders 'assumption'.

Dear Rosie,

I would like to say thank you to you because you have taught me how to be a more understanding, well-rounded person. When you were born, despite how proud I was, I hate to admit that I was nervous, mainly because I did not understand the learning disability you have – Down's syndrome. You have taught me that having a learning disability is nothing to worry about and I also now see everybody as loving human beings no matter what learning disability or physical disability they may or may not have. I would also like to thank you for understanding me. Although you may not be able to communicate through fluent English with me, I really appreciate you smiling with me when I'm happy and comforting me when I'm sad. As well as that, pictures, videos and the presence of you make a lot of people happy. So, thank you from myself and a lot of other people.


Yes it's true and natural that as parents we will worry about our children and whether or not they will feel burdened by having a brother or sister with a disability, however nobody can tell you their reality like a sibling themselves. I'm under no illusion that this letter represents every child who has a brother or sister with a disability but it certainly illustrates that they don't all suffer and don't all feel a negative impact.

I'm extremely proud of Harry for writing such a lovely note and for the fact it comes straight from the heart with no agenda other than to thank his sister for being who she is.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. Our son with T21 is our first and we often worry about the impact he will have on any future children. Your son's words have put my mind at ease. We see Isaac as our son, not a disability and how ignorant we were to think a child would think any different of their sibling.