#HumansofWMP: Inspector with Down’s son appeals for attitude change on condition
• It’s estimated there are 40,000 people with Down’s syndrome in the UK and around one in every 1,000 babies born in the UK will have Down’s syndrome
• Thomas, son of Detective Inspector Ade George, has the condition
• On World Down’s Syndrome Day (21 March) Ade tells us how Thomas has changed his life, both personally and professionally
This year World Down’s Syndrome Day is about children and adults having a voice #wedecide. All people with Down’s syndrome should be able to be involved in decisions about their lives.
The condition is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome in a baby’s cells. In the majority of cases, it’s not inherited. It usually happens by chance at the time of conception.
Down’s is not a disease. People with it are not ill and do not “suffer" from the condition. People with the syndrome will have a learning disability which affects their ability to learn, it does not mean they cannot learn at all.
Today the average life expectancy for a person with Down’s syndrome is between 50 and 60 with a small number of people living into their 70s. In 1983 the average life expectancy was just 25.
In 2015 Detective Inspector Ade George’s son Thomas was born. Thomas has Down’s syndrome. As part of our latest #WMPHumans piece Ade shares their story and how Thomas has changed his life.
“Although Thomas is now nearly five years old he looks a lot younger and has a learning age of 0-11 months. He underwent major heart surgery at nine months so this further delayed his development.
“He has very low muscle tone which means he’s unable to walk at the moment or stand unaided, although he’s getting there and we do physio several times a day to support this part of his development. He is also sensory averse which impacts on his play and feeding.
“The big one though is that Thomas is also anti-sleep! A typical night involves repeated long wakes; this goes some way to explain my permanent panda eyes and my reliance on strong freshly filtered black coffee!
“The additional support, multiple hospital appointments and the lack of sleep can make work really hard at times but I am fortunate that I have the right support from my boss and we were able to devise a flexible working pattern that suits my role and my home life.
“Since Thomas was born I have always had fantastic support from colleagues and the force, it reminds me of one the things I believe we are really good at in the police… looking after each other.
“Despite all of these challenges we feel incredibly lucky to have Thomas. He has an infectious smile that can light up a room, and although he is non-verbal he has a wicked sense of humour. Having a disabled child has changed my perspective on life and made me appreciate every moment.
“We may have to wait that little bit of extra time for him to reach his developmental milestones but he’s made us appreciate the journey, and delight in the slightest progress. Who knew it could be so exciting to see him turn the pages of a book?
“The reality today is that prevailing negative attitudes, low expectations, discrimination and exclusion, mean that people with Down’s do not always have opportunities to participate fully in decision making.
“Communication may be a barrier but there are resources that can help us as police offers to speak to those with learning disabilities. It won’t be possible in all cases but for me we owe it to all victims and witnesses regardless of the difficulties to listen to what they have to say."
You can take part in World Down’s Syndrome Day (WDSD) this year by wearing brightly coloured, mis-matched socks. Wear them wherever you are and whatever you’re doing on 21 March!
Take a photo and post them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtags #LotsOfSocks, #WorldDownSyndromeDay and #WDSD20.
You can find out more about Down’s syndrome here www.downs-syndrome.org.uk