About Down's Syndrome : Alison

Written by Alison’s twin sister Jill

Alison and I were born as twins in 1963 in Bradford, West Yorkshire. The household was already busy with five other children ranging in age from 14 months to 18 years. At that time there was no facility for Alison to attend nursery and so I too, did not attend. When it came time to starting school, I joined my sisters at the local primary school and Alison went to a special school. At home Alison was treated the same as everyone else. This enabled her to learn many skills alongside us and contributed to the good progress she made at school, such as with reading and writing. 

Childhood consisted of lots of time outdoors, visits to grandparents and to the homes of our many aunties and uncles. Family holidays to places such as Scarborough enabled Alison to become familiar with other towns. This meant that as an adult, she was able to take short independent breaks with her close friend. 

Alison soon developed a passion for swimming and her skills in the pool were superb. She liked nothing better than holidays where she could dive into deep swimming pools or swim in the sea. Unfortunately, Alison’s ability to get herself on inflatables were not as advanced! This always resulted in great laughter and many happy memories. Alison has always had a cheeky sense of humour and a highly infectious laugh. In our 57 years together, I can honestly say I have never heard Alison speak badly of another person. She would make her feelings known through being quiet and demonstrate her stubborn streak if asked to do something she disagreed with! 

When our school years were finished Alison attended Bradford college. She was able to walk the long way from our home to the bus stop, take the bus and get herself to college completely independently. At college she learnt many skills, such as cooking and using computers. Alison also developed a love of knitting and sewing, and we treasure many framed tapestries she has completed over the years.  

As our parents aged, Alison was given the opportunity to live independently with another woman with learning disabilities, Susan. Together, these two independent women made a wonderful home. They were given support as they needed it, such as to manage their finances. Alison and Susan had secure routines, such as for making meals, washing and ironing, watching favourite television programmes and outings. This friendship has endured over many years and our strong family network has adopted Susan into it.  

Sadly, over the last few years Alison has developed dementia and is now no longer able to live with Susan. She is however, still in her own home and receives outstanding care. Susan visits her, without fail, every week, just to sit with her best friend and hold her hand. This week (April) Alison and I celebrate our 57th birthday. Because of the coronavirus our planned family party will not happen. We know however, that her wonderful carers will celebrate with her and we have complete peace of mind that throughout this pandemic she is being cared for in the best possible way. We do not know what the future holds. However, we all know that our lives have been blessed beyond measure by having our beautiful sister Alison in our family. 

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