“My niece Emma (15) who is in transition year at school, had her work experience with us this week and has written an article for you. I must admit I got a bit emotional when reading her article”.  Allan

Hi, my name is Emma and I am Allan’s niece. I have two sisters and a brother (Laura, Seán and Kate). My sister Laura is 20 years old and has Downs Syndrome.

When my sister was born twenty years ago, my parents were faced with a lot of preconceptions. There is a common misconception that having a child with Downs Syndrome is a negative thing, and while there are definitely challenges, I completely disagree. In the years that would follow my parents would discover that having a child with Downs Syndrome is actually the complete opposite.

The first thing that my family learnt is that my sister’s diagnosis does not define her. She is still a person who has feelings and emotions. My sister’s name is Laura and she happens to have Downs Syndrome. She is a person first and just because she has Downs Syndrome does not mean she doesn’t contribute hugely to our family. Having a family member with Downs Syndrome also does not make us “special”, we are still just a normal family.

My sister has taught me more than anyone else I know. She has taught me to be kind to others, to be tolerant and most importantly, to understand differences. She has taught me to be more empathetic and to respect everyone, something which I feel can be lacking from our world nowadays. From a very young age myself and my siblings knew that my sister was a little bit different, but we never once saw this as a negative thing. Because it’s not a negative thing, if anything it’s a positive thing. I have learnt more from being Laura’s sister than I ever could through anything else and I will forever be grateful to her for giving me more than anyone else ever could.

Having a sibling with Down Syndrome has been one of the best experiences of my life and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Laura is one of the most kind, caring and funny people that I have ever met and I am forever grateful to be able to call her my sister.

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out.” -Dr Seuss

Emma Cuthbert