At Jenny & Andy, we are a team of moms first and foremost. And it is our strong belief that we need to support and include individuals from all walks of life, including those with disabilities.
Last year for World Down Syndrome Day, we chatted with Charlotte's parents Hillary and John, to learn about their experience with Down syndrome (read here).
We wanted to check in again to see what they've been up to lately, especially since the arrival of baby Harrison and Charlotte's new role as big sister!
Check out our interview below.
Since we spoke with you last year on World Down Syndrome Day, do you have family updates to share with us?
We welcomed our son, Harrison, in May 2022. Charlotte has been loving her new role of big sister. Harrison is 10 months now and Charlotte is 2 1/2 years old. They love to play and explore together.
What are some challenges Charlotte's overcome or proud accomplishments she's made over the past year?
Charlotte has made a lot of progress with her speech in the last year. Speech is difficult for kids with Down syndrome because of their low muscle tone, facial structure, and developmental delays. Charlotte has come really far in her receptive language. She understands most of what is said to her. We are now working really hard to help develop the tools for her to communicate back. Expressive language is something that she is getting increasingly frustrated by. Right now, she mainly communicates through sign language. But being the social butterfly that she is, she gets frustrated when she is trying to play with other kids and they don’t know her signs. She is making progress everyday and we are so proud of how hard she is working.
Did you have any apprehension about your second pregnancy and plans for expanding your family?
Not at all, we knew Charlotte would be an amazing big sister. In fact, we look forward to giving her more siblings one day. We always wanted a bigger family and her diagnosis hasn’t changed that plan.
How did you prepare Charlotte for the change and help set her expectations for having a sibling?
We played a lot with dolls to help get her ready. Although sharing mom and dad was definitely an adjustment for her, she did really well adapting to and embracing the role of big sister. She loves to help out in her own little ways (like handing us the wipes when we change him).
How is Charlotte liking being an older sister? Any challenges?
She loves it! We haven’t faced many challenges outside of the normal adjustments of going from 1 kid to 2. To be honest though, I do fear the day where he will surpass his big sister with milestones. I worry about what that will do to her confidence and I worry about what that will do to their relationship. Right now he looks up to her so much. He pushes himself because he is so desperate to keep who with her. He is so close to walking and all credit goes to her for that.
How will you prepare Harrison for having a sibling with special needs? Any tips on how to navigate conversations about the differences and similarities between him and Charlotte?
Harrison will never know a life without a sister with special needs. I think what we will need to prepare him for the most, is the judgement she might face out in the world. When he’s old enough, we will talk to him about what Down syndrome is, how to advocate for his sister and educate others who might have questions.
We will teach him not to limit her and that she can accomplish all the same things as him, she just might have to work harder. By seeing how much harder Charlotte has to work to achieve things that might come easy to him, I hope that will instill in him a respect for people living with a disability. To look at people with disabilities as strong, resilient and hardworking, instead of looking down on them with pity.
You can follow Charlotte on Instagram @lifewithcharlottem!