In an essay originally written for his English course, but later published with The Guardian, teenage Oliver Shone shared what it’s like to have a younger brother with Down syndrome. He talks about the struggles but he also highlights the immense joys he and his entire family have experienced since his brother’s birth.
Sebbie was born on Oliver’s fourth birthday and Oliver immediately knew that his baby brother was different.
“He was in the special care baby unit, surrounded by wires and lying in a tiny pod,” wrote Oliver. “Lots of doctors surrounded him and, young as I was, I realised that he was not a healthy child, but to me he was just my new little brother and was perfect. I did not understand, then, the overwhelming distress and horror that faced my family.”
Oliver talks about how frightened his parents were for their new son and how Sebbie would have to go through surgeries and countless doctor visits. But today, life is better.
“Looking at him from across the table, I think how far he has come, physically and mentally. He has recently learned to swim and is making progress towards adding numbers,” writes Oliver. “[…] We often find ourselves laughing round the table at funny remarks and comments of his; he has always had the ability to generate laughter. His sense of humour is infectious; there have been many times that he has diffused a tense situation with his comical asides.”
While Oliver sometimes worries for his brother’s future, he is glad that his brother was born in a time when there are more opportunities for people with Down syndrome. He says that life with Sebbie can sometimes be a “real challenge” but Oliver “would not change him for the world.”
“He can be tricky, perplexing and sometimes outrageous, but his sense of fun and love outweighs all else.”
Despite the challenges and concerns Sebbie and the family face, Oliver believes that the world would be a darker place without people with Down syndrome. He thinks that to abort them would be a mistake.
“It is hard to judge ‘normal’ in this world,” he said. “There is talk of testing for Down’s syndrome, selective abortion and eradicating this condition. While I understand that no disability is ideal, I think it would be desperately sad to lose these precious children and adults who bring so much light into their families’ lives. Gone would be my crazy brother who talks of pizzas, trains and skiing all in the same sentence; gone would be the adoration that he feels for me and gone would be that wonderful dancing and tuneless singing.”
Studies have shown that 67% of children with Down syndrome die through abortion. According to a new documentary, 100% of preborn babies with Down syndrome in Iceland are aborted. The numbers are heartbreaking, but thanks to people like Oliver, people will soon begin to realize the value of life for everyone, including those with Down syndrome.