Jack is 19 and has Down’s syndrome, a chromosomal condition caused by having 47 chromosomes instead of 46. It results in a range of symptoms, including upward slanting eyes and a flattened nose, and can affect growth and intellectual development.
Jack lives with his mum Jenny, his dad Darren and his brother Max in Herefordshire, and is much like any other 19 year old. ‘He loves listening to loud music, he’s very sociable and he’d love to own a car!’ says Jenny. ‘The only difference is that Jack has Down’s syndrome.’
When she was pregnant with Jack, Jenny had no idea the child she was expecting had anything wrong with him. ‘I was just 21 and it didn’t even cross my mind that I’d have anything other than a “normal”, healthy baby. But as soon as he was born, he looked different and I knew there was something wrong.’
The doctors confirmed what Jenny had suspected – that Jack had Down’s syndrome. ‘I spoke to my best friend when I was still in hospital and asked her to tell everyone about Jack’s condition because I couldn’t bear to see the shock on people’s faces,’ says Jenny. ‘I remember being wheeled back through the ward and thinking, “Why me?” He wasn’t the baby I thought I was going to have.’
After three months, Jenny says she started to bond with Jack. ‘I think it took time because I was in shock, but I remember looking at him one day when I was giving him his food and being overwhelmed by feelings of love for him, and I haven’t looked back since.’
Jenny and Darren had Max, nine years after Jack was born. ‘We were nervous about it, which is probably why we waited so long, but I had an amnio as well as lots of scans, and everything was fine.’
Jack attends Barrs Court Specialist School in Hereford, where the Herefordshire Learning Disability Trust holds a summer holiday club each year. ‘At 19, he’s becoming much more aware of the things he can’t do, but going to the holiday club helps him to feel good about the things that he can.’