I am George and apparently I have Down’s syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder. I am nearly 15 years old and I am loved. My daddy comes into my bedroom every morning chanting my name. I love that man so much. I love his whole face. He helps me out of bed and puts me on the loo. The loo is so boring. I pee… eventually. He dresses me and helps me down the stairs to listen to my music while my mamma faffs about in the kitchen. It would be better if breakfast was ready faster. She’s a bit slow but I love her. She must have heard me complain because she says “Nearly ready George!” She helps me eat it and then she makes me brush my teeth. That’s not nice at all. I still love her. I find that if I look into her eyes and hug her while she’s brushing my teeth she stops and hugs me back – so I hug her a lot! I am clever like that!
She helps me onto the school bus and waves goodbye and blows me kisses and I look into her eyes – she hears me. I like the bus – I zone out and relax. I flick my fingers in front of my eyes and chill. I like my school. I like my teacher – he has a nice face. I really like to do stuff in my classroom – it’s all quite interesting, but when it gets too much I zone out and chill. My teachers are very good at hearing me.
After school I go home to see mamma again and even though I don’t feel like hugging her I look at her and love her. She hears me. Sometimes she hugs me anyway which is very annoying. My sister Izzy comes through the front door and comes straight to see me. She is older than me and I have to bend my head back to look into her eyes! She’s another one infatuated with hugging me and sometimes she plants a huge great kiss on my cheek. I put up with it although sometimes I push her off. She tried for a very long time to teach me her name but I couldn’t say it out loud. It was always inside. Eventually she learned to hear me.
I spend the evening with daddy, mamma and Izzy. They do a lot of talking. Sometimes I understand a bit and sometimes I have no idea what they’re on about but I am ok with that. I like listening to their voices. They float like music. When they talk to me they use fewer words and show me pictures. I just don’t get this talking malarkey. It’s so complicated. I don’t like signing or symbols much either. You’d think I’d be frustrated, wouldn’t you, but I’m not! I don’t need a lot – food, love, hugs, love, daddy, mamma, Izzy, love, swimming, my friends, my teachers. That’s all. Then I am happy.
My daddy takes me upstairs for my bath and I love it! I make my happy noises and everyone smiles great big wide grins. My mamma copies my sounds which is completely hysterical and I laugh and laugh and repeat my sounds; we are having a conversation! When in full flow we sound like ‘The Clangers’! Daddy and mamma keep saying “I love you George”. I make happy noises because I love them right back and sometimes out of my mouth pop real words: “daddeeee!” or “mammaaaaa!” They hear me. My daddy sings sometimes too and I giggle at him and touch his lovely face. I say “I love you” inside and he hears me.
You see I think things – I think inside my head and people have to learn how to listen.
I go to bed and dream of being a dancer, a painter, a model, a waiter, a gymnast, a footballer, a musician – an advocate, but the next morning I am just me. I won’t ever be any of those things. And no mamma holding her new baby with Down’s syndrome will point at me and say “I want my baby to grow up just like him”. But that’s only because they haven’t learned to hear me yet. And when they do they will know that love conquers all and being different is normal.
George Bowman has Down’s syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder. He has severe learning difficulties and cannot speak. He needs full support with most things.
This piece is written for World Down Syndrome Day 2019 by Tatty Bowman, with complete inspiration from George Bowman #LeaveNoOneBehind
In 2016, Tatty also wrote a piece called ‘I’m No Poster Boy’ about her son George. You can read it by clicking here.