Parents of identical twins with Down’s syndrome help change public misconceptions
Abigail and Isobel Parry – identical twins who were born with Down’s syndrome in 2011 – have been celebrating after being able to attend their first day at a mainstream school.
The odds of identical twins with Down’s syndrome being born stand at two million to one, and their parents have become active campaigners to raise awareness of the genetic condition, helping to tackle misconceptions among the general public.
Matt and Jodi Parry, the girls’ parents, launched the Twincess Campaign and website, which aims to provide honest advice to new or prospective parents of children with Down’s syndrome.
They said that their initial reaction to the discovery was fear, but that they have since discovered caring for their daughters is no more difficult than for their six-year-old son Finlay, who does not have the same condition.
Mr Parry said: “When the girls were born we did not know if they would be able to go to a mainstream school.
“This just shows how far we have come in our own understanding of Down’s syndrome. We had misconceptions which a lot of people still have, and that is what we are trying to tackle.
“In sending Abigail and Isobel to a mainstream school we have chosen to push them to succeed as much as we can, but we are not blind to the fact there are alternatives should they struggle.”
Although the twins have a more limited vocabulary range than other children their age when speaking, their level of sign language vocabulary more than compensates for that.
The CEO of the Down’s syndrome Association – Carol Boys – said: “In the past it was believed there were many things that children with Down’s syndrome could not do when in fact they had never been given the opportunity to try.
“Children with Down’s syndrome can and do learn alongside their peers in their local mainstream primary school, despite the fact they may not learn things as quickly as their classmates.
“Increasingly, they will move on with their classmates to a mainstream secondary school and many will leave with qualifications and go on to further education.”