Maxwell was born on World Down Syndrome Day 2014 and for the last three years his Mum, Molly, has shared some of his journey with us. This year she celebrates what Maxwell brings to their community. #InclusionMatters
by Molly Macleod
As Maxwell turns four this World Down syndrome day, I am amazed at what he continues to teach me about the world around us.
This has been a year of important milestones and significant change. I have felt vulnerable and weary at times, especially hearing that he would need to move nursery at the same time as starting preschool. We would be leaving familiar and comfortable relationships with people who understood him, for new and uncertain relationships.
How Maxwell would be perceived in his own community was suddenly a stark reality, these new relationships really mattered and would potentially last a lifetime. There was a huge amount of pressure.
I needn’t have worried!
Maxwell took to his new surroundings with his usual charm and enthusiasm, gathering friends and admirers along the way, and the fact that he was doing this is in our own community made it all the more special and rewarding.To hear a parent on the school run say to me “his smile makes my day” or to see the ladies at the local supermarket obviously charmed by an interaction with him, touches my heart. That my child is special to others and is not just accepted but celebrated in his community, has really taught me about the importance of inclusion.
People have a connection with him, they even have their own nicknames for him like “Mr. Blue eyes,” they high five or fist bump him when they meet. They all light up when they see his face and leave with a smile and a spring in their step. He has connected me and our whole family to the community and we are all the better for it. Yes, walking to preschool takes at least 3 times as long whilst he says hello, hi, morning, how are you to everyone we meet, but he is constantly reminding us to reconnect, to enjoy life and not to miss the blueness of the sky or the birds singing in the trees. Everything might take longer but it’s more fun, an adventure that we enjoy every step of, as if it were the destination not just the journey.
Not one of his friends think less of him because they don’t understand what he says, not do they get upset that he can’t play chase and run after them. They understand that he communicates in other ways and they adjust their pace accordingly. His friends don’t see him as disabled, they simply see him as Maxwell.
“A day with Maxwell is eye opening and just absolutely breath taking. It’s something I treasure every time. I go home having learnt things that I never knew, every single day, it’s something incredible.
He brings joy, happiness, love and kindness to all the other children. He gives them nothing but love and affection. When Maxwell is surrounded by other children he learns from them but he also influences them to learn new things from his world perspective. He teaches them kindness and he teaches them that no matter how different we may seem, we all have the same love to give.
He teaches us all a million things in a billion different ways that we never knew were possible. He makes such an impact on your life that it makes it impossible to not want him in it.” – Taryn
“I help him and he helps me…we do everything together” – Isabelle
“Apart from Maxwell’s very happy, cheeky and affectionate nature and not forgetting his lovely cuddles, I feel very proud that I am part of his learning journey.
The children all accept Maxwell for who he is, they include him in their play and conversation and never question him.
It’s very rewarding to see him interacting and socialising with his peers, giggling, experiencing new things for the first time and not being afraid to try.” – Tina
“We have lots of fun playing at Maxwell’s house” – Tyrian
“When I first met Maxwell it was the first time I was caring for a child with Down’s syndrome and I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to understand him, but Maxwell was so happy and friendly that he gave me the courage to take a deep breath, smile and learn to trust that he will help me know what makes him happy, what he likes and that he is just like the other children.
Maxwell’s charm has made the children love him and they are always proud to hold his hand, to sit next to him at lunchtime or to share their favourite toy. Even if they don’t always understand what he says, they feel good to be around him, becoming more sensible and kind while playing together.
I am so lucky and honoured to be part of his learning journey and to see him inspire other people to smile and stop for a moment to think about the truly important values of life.” – Ramona
“We want our son to grow up to value everyone no matter who they are, we think it’s important to ensure that the next generation feel confident to challenge discrimination wherever they encounter it. Hopefully through teaching our children we will ensure generations to come grow up in a better place.” – Jack’s mum Alex
To hear another child say that Maxwell is their best friend and that they do everything together is all I could wish for him.
To have friends and other adults who genuinely enjoy his company and who choose to spend their time with him is a wonderful feeling. We have met so many amazing people because of Maxwell and he has brought me a greater understanding of humanity, of what it is that I really value in others and myself. He has changed how I view what’s important and has taught me that we all have something to contribute to our community and that we can all be accepted for who we are, just the way we are.
If you would like to read Molly’s blogs from previous years you can find them here:
2016 – My son Maxwell
2017 – Maxwell turns three