Durban - She describes her child as magical, able to bring joy and smiles even when times are sad.
For Durban mom Trudy Chetty, 40, she doesn’t just see her 13-year-old son, Tristyn, as having Down syndrome. She knows he is a wonderful child with potential and opportunities, the same as “normal” children.
It’s this message she wants to spread with the creation of a new support group called “You’re Magical”, for people with, and families caring for, Down syndrome children.
“When Tristyn was born, we only found out two days later that he had Down syndrome.
“But my husband, Trevor, and I did not see this as the end of the world, the end of our ‘normal’ lifestyles, nor the end of my full- time working career, and Tristyn was not someone to be hidden away. We continued as normal,” said Chetty.
“You’re Magical” was set up to assist people with Down syndrome and to let them know they were “special, gifted and unique”.
While Chetty was previously a member of the national Down Syndrome association, she said she felt a “calling” to do something in her personal capacity to help children with disabilities.
“Our mission is to create and nurture a loving and inclusive community celebrating every person with a disability, including Down syndrome. We will accomplish this mission by empowering and supporting families and individuals who have been touched by Down syndrome. We want to work together to increase education, promote public understanding and acceptance, work toward full inclusion, and defend the civil rights of individuals with Down syndrome,” she said.
One of the services the group will offer is speech and occupational therapies, free of charge.
“We would like to have more volunteers who have such skills to come and offer these services free. Children with Down syndrome have speech impediments and this service will help families who cannot afford specialist fees.
“Something people may not be aware of, for instance, is the need for babysitters. Many parents who care for children with disabilities often need just a night off, and we would like people offering babysitting services to come on board.
“My aim is also to empower women, many people expected me to quit my job to take care of my child, and society can be judgemental if you don’t, but this does not have to be so.
“Women need to be strong and make the decision to carry on as normal and bring your child up in a normal environment.
“This is the best gift you can give to them. Nobody said life was going to be easy, but that doesn’t mean you should give up,” she said, attributing her strength to God.
Chetty said her son had been placed at crèche when he was three months old because she had to return to work.
“He now goes to Golden Hours school, plays soccer, cricket, loves swimming, and has many varied activities.”
She and her husband have another son, Joshua, who is one year old and does not have Down syndrome.
On the issue of the Australian parents who allegedly abandoned their son because he had Down syndrome, Chetty said: “As parents, such news comes as a shock, but I believe that in time, when they understand more about Down syndrome, they will change their minds.”
Seven-month-old “Baby Gammy” was allegedly abandoned by his Australian parents, David Farnell, 57, and his wife, Wendy, after they found out he had Down syndrome. He and his twin were born to a surrogate Thai mother, Pattamaron Chanbua.
Gammy’s sister, Pipah, is in the care of her parents. In another twist to the story, Farnell has been reported in Australian media to be a registered sex offender.
Independent on Saturday