Supporting each other – parents, babies and toddlers

In many regions across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, families enjoy a wide range of social and learning opportunities through their local support groups.

SupportGroup1Some support groups provide services focused on the development of babies and toddlers, where parents and carers can share their experiences as their children develop.

This photo (right & above) shows children learning at one of 21&Co’s communication groups, led by Tatty Bowman.

Tatty says:

“I have a wonderful job – I teach preschool children with Down’s syndrome.  I have done for 10 years as a Symbol UK co worker. I am also the co chair of a charity called 21&Co which provides important services to children with Down’s syndrome and their families.  But most important of all I am a mum.  My son George was born 11 years ago.  As soon as they put him in my arms I knew something was different.  We found out an hour later that he had Down’s syndrome.  And there began an amazing journey.

 At first things were difficult and my husband and I were sad.  But slowly we realised George was exactly who he was meant to be and he was OK with that so we had to be too.  Over the next few years he taught us to re evaluate life – to see success and joy in the small things, to appreciate all that we have in life every day, to feel the ecstasy of loving and being loved unconditionally and when he was diagnosed with ASD as well, we realised this boy was just not going to be beaten.  Even without words he charms the pants of everyone who meets him – not in the conventional ways, but by touching, smiling, giggling and whooping with irrepressible and irresistible joy.

 So I am a lucky woman – to be able to spend my days teaching these wonderful children and am continuously impressed and in awe of all that they accomplish in their individual ways and how very hard they try. It is my son who led me to this place.  A very lovely place to be.”

Support group services

Regional Down’s syndrome support groups are parent led charities that raise funds, train volunteers and employ staff to run the services that they want. Depending on the number of families who participate, they may offer groups arranged by age, so the activities for each age group can focus on development during that period, while ensuring that every child can join in. Activities to support communication, speech and language are popular, as well as games for developing play, physical, number and reading skills. In addition, the children learn social behaviours which help them when they go to school.

Support group contacts

You can find details of your local support group here on our website.


We discuss how children learn and show enjoyable activities to match children’s interests and promote their learning at our Supporting Early Development: Birth to 5 years’ training days. We also outline activities that can be included in early development groups and explain the evidence base for these.


We are developing examples of early learning activities, for our website.

Please let us know if you have photo’s and activities that you would like us to know about by sending an email to

Visit our website for more information and resources on babies and toddlers.