A ‘little ray of sunshine’ from Derry is one of the stars of a new book which will help new parents when their child receives a Down Syndrome diagnosis.
Maisie Colhoun features in the book ‘Wouldn’t Change A Thing,’ which was launched on October 1.
The book is the brainchild of the parent-led organisation of the same name, which was set up after a fantastic carpool karaoke style video, featuring children with Down Syndrome and their mums, went viral.
Maisie’s mother, Dawn, said the ‘amazing book should be given to every mum and dad who have just had a diagnosis of their child having Down Syndrome, whether that be antenatally or postnatally.’
“Why? Because our lives have all been enhanced in many ways due to our children having Down Syndrome,” she said.
Maisie entered the world ‘with a bang’ at Altnagelvin Hospital, where Dawn worked as a support worker.
“We loved her from the very beginning and Down Syndrome didn’t come into it as she was our little princess. I had grown up with our neighbour’s little girl who just happened to have Down Syndrome, so we were more concerned that Maisie had a rough start to life and was extremely sick from as soon as she was born, due to two holes in her heart.”
Dawn outlined how Maisie has a ‘moderate to severe learning disability’ and is ‘extremely loving, but needs her own space too.’
“She has sensory needs above other children and her peers. She lights up a room and gives hugs to random strangers whilst out walks.”
Dawn, who is married to Ally, told how Maisie ‘lights up our world,’ but when they need advice or help, they have ‘several tribes’ of people they depend on. These include their family and friends, their Foyle Down Syndrome family, their ‘Mummy group’ from Ardnashee School and College and most recently, their friends at ‘Wouldn’t Change a Thing.’
Dawn said the book shows the ‘amazing families, their kids and adults’ who all have Down Syndrome and ‘encourage parents that there are friends out there to support your journey every step of the way.’
“Maisie and her friends are like everyone else. They want to learn, succeed, have friends and have adventures along the way. This book proves they do, and they should be celebrated because what we take for granted, they work very hard at. It will show new parents not to fear what’s to come, but to celebrate every step of the way. It will show fun, love, excitement and families who love and adore their kids.”
She added: “A life with a child with Down Syndrome brings ups and downs like any other child but it brings love and happiness and celebrates the triumph of achieving every little thing, of taking time and appreciating everything in life. It also comes with the usual behaviours tantrums, mischief making and everything other kids do.”
Dawn said the book shows positive, lived stories that dispel the outdated perception.
Dawn explained how the book, produced by Celebrate T21, Australia, in partnership with ‘Wouldn’t Change A Thing’ is one all her friends and family ‘wish they had seen when their children were born with Down Syndrome.’
Maisie’s page has a quote from Dawn, which says: “Maisie, our little ray of sunshine who started to walk at 6.5 years old. A heart warrior princess at 18 weeks. She has a fab laugh and mischievous character, a pure heart and a fantastic diva personality. Maisie amazes us everyday.”
The photographs for the book were taken by the ‘amazing’ Leisa Smith Anderson at her studio. Dawn wanted the photos to be ‘all about’ Maisie in the book, as she is ‘a force to be reckoned with, a pure character and she can try the patience of a saint sometimes, but she is loved so much’.
She added: “She loves her two big brothers Thomas and Christopher and they are mad about her, as are their friends. Our family is stronger with Maisie and we wouldn’t be without her.”
Dawn urged people to buy a copy of the book, priced at £6 and a further copy will be gifted to help new parents in receiving this book through support groups and maternity units.
See the Wouldn’t Change A Thing page on Facebook or at www.wouldntchangeathing.org