Look up, not down
By Mel MARTIN
BE it gymnastics, horseriding, music, or swimming, Hannah takes on every hobby with the same enthusiasm.
But having Down syndrome means every milestone takes just a little longer to reach. And one big milestone is getting very close, with only a few months before Hannah starts school.
"I think we've prepared her fairly well," Mum Lyn Legge said.
"She'll never be as ready as a child without Down syndrome, but she's as ready as can be and I think she'll cope well.
"We spend time practising what she'll need to do for school ? reading, writing, how to play with other children, things that don't come as naturally to her as other kids.
"We back things up with visuals. We have a calendar of her daily routines to help reinforce things for her. But Hannah will have learning difficulties and need one-on-one time to help her with things like reading, writing, and toileting.
"The school has aides there who they'll utilise, but funding is limited and you have to put your case forward to justify the need," Mrs Legge said.
"The biggest problem (when you have a child with Down syndrome) is fighting for services like speech therapy, occupational therapy, aiding for school, and access to early intervention."
Lyn and Glen also anticipate Hannah may get tired. "She might have to do four days at first, but we'll see how she goes," Lyn said.
While the Legges have always given Hannah every chance to maximise her potential and Hannah has embraced every opportunity, they all still have to deal with other people's attitudes.
"We just want to expose our child to the same opportunities as everybody else wants for their child," Mrs Legge said.
"But everyone reacts differently. Some people are a bit standoffish at first, some a little curious.
"But they realise soon enough that she's just like any other kid. And with her personality, people warm to her really quickly."
Still, some reactions can be extreme. "You have to be a bit thick-skinned sometimes," Mrs Legge said.
"One family pulled their child from a music class. But then, on the other side, one parent specifically asked for their child to be in her class. They see it as a learning experience for their child, to teach them that everyone is different.
"So for every negative, there is a positive."
And the Legges wouldn't have it any other way.
"She's an absolute joy to us. We wouldn't change anything," Mr Legge said.
"Without it, she wouldn't be who she is."
It is Down Syndrome Week from October 16-22. Coffs Coast Down syndrome carers met for an informal barbecue at Boambee yesterday.
More information on 9683 4333.