When Batemans Bay woman Kaaren sees her teenage son Lachlan’s beaming face, her heart fills with love and gratitude.
Lachlan is just like every other teenager – he challenges boundaries, takes risks and exerts his independence. He also has Down syndrome.
October is a special month for Kaaren and Lachlan. It’s Down Syndrome Awareness Month, a time to celebrate people with Down syndrome and their abilities and accomplishments.
Kaaren believes raising awareness helps foster inclusion and understanding.
“Lachlan has an amazing gift of making you feel loved and special,” Kaaren said.
“He has an amazing sense of humour and he takes great delight in making other people laugh. His capacity for love is huge.
“He greets me every day as if he hasn’t seen me for weeks. He has such genuine love and joy, it makes my heart fill with love and gratitude.”
Kaaren works at the Department of Human Services Bateman’s Bay Smart Centre. Lachlan is a much loved visitor at the centre, and Kaaren’s colleagues go out of their way to make him feel special.
“Even though kids his age tower over him, Lachlan is a giant personality in a small body. He loves super heroes and likes to imagine he has super powers,” Kaaren said.
“Lachlan’s other love is to sing and dance. Sadly for Lachlan, he inherited my singing voice so he’s not likely to be on the world stage any time soon. It doesn’t stop us from having lots of fun though -singing as loudly as we can and dancing along.”
Raising Lachlan has meant Kaaren has at times needed flexibility in the workplace.
“For the entire 13 years I have worked for the department I have felt fully supported,” Kaaren said.
“I was able to work part time during Lachlan’s early school years when I needed to. I’ve also been able to negotiate my full time working hours to fit in with the times he needs me most.
While Kaaren knows Lachlan will face challenges in the future, she also knows with the support of family and friends, he can overcome anything.
“Lachlan is nearly 16. He just wants to do the things other teenagers do. Even though I sometimes feel sad for Lachlan that it may take him longer to learn things and gain his independence, I also feel extremely proud of all things he is able to do,” Kaaren said.
“Everything about Lachlan makes him special.”
- Visit the Down Syndrome Australia home page: www.downsyndrome.org.au