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LUCY COTTON; After mum Lucy found great support from the Solihull Down Syndrome Association, she and her husband Steve stepped up to help other parents.

WHEN Lucy Cotton was pregnant with her only son Sam, she and husband Steve were told that there was a chance of their baby having Down syndrome. When their little boy arrived with the genetic condition 10 weeks early in November 2012, life for the couple changed forever.

Being premature meant that Sam needed extra help in those early weeks, requiring a nasal feeding tube and oxygen to help with feeding problems and to help his little lungs. With the help of Heartlands Hospital, where Sam was born, the family were able to head home 10 weeks later, with extra support from nurses.

But Sam wasn't the only one that needed support. Heartlands put Lucy and Steve in touch with the Solihull Down Syndrome Association, to connect them with other parents in similar situations to their own.

"On contacting the group, I was put in touch with another mother whose daughter was born a week later than Sam and also had Down syndrome," Sam says.

Life with amazing, heart-truly makes for him safe "She is now one of my closest friends, and it's been really useful to have a good friend who understands what it's like to have a child with additional needs. Her support has got me through some truly heartbreaking times, and without contacting the group, we'd never have met.

Sam is fun, warming and me thankful being born and well "For us, having parents who had or were going through the same issues as ourselves, in terms of working with educational and community support to get the inputs from professionals our children need, was invaluable. Sometimes just knowing you are not alone is helpful." Lucy and Steve are now active trustees of the charity, running regular play and stay groups, arranging fundraisers and offering support to new parents. Sam's own social life is equally as busy.

"Sam does have some development delays but I've found that the children at his preschool just see him as a friend, and he's finding his own way to communicate through the use of Makaton and verbal sounds. One sign he has also learnt early on is 'cake', so he knows how to ask for his favourite thing!

"Life with Sam is amazing, fun, heartwarming and truly makes me thankful for him being born safe and well. He's a cheeky little boy who knows no boundaries, and as our world becomes more accepting of differences, I have high hopes he will grow up in an inclusive Birmingham where anything is possible."

Life with Sam is amazing, fun, heart-warming and truly makes me thankful for him being born safe and well

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Nov 16, 2016
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