What do you do if you are sick of people excluding your son because he has Downs Syndrome? If you're Julie Fisher, you write a book. Which is so successful you end up hosting your own radio show - and writing three more! Here, Victorian woman Julie tells Lifestyle News about her amazing journey.
My husband and I discovered Darcy had Downs Syndrome when I was pregnant, and it set our lives on a completely different path than the one we thought we were heading.
I think some people still think of Down Syndrome in the way before awareness began. Social media assists with raising awareness and letting people see that people with DS and other disabilities are people just like them.
They may learn at a slower rate, but at the end of the day, they have feelings like we all do. They belong to loving families and have great friendship groups around them.
I think there is still a bit of a stigma around DS but by sharing stories and raising awareness this is changing for the better.
But my son can feel excluded when doing everyday things like shopping and catching the bus.
People staring, pointing and making comments can make him feel like he shouldn't be there and people are judging him.
What I do to try and move past that is to give people a smile. I learned that most of us do look at people and it's not always in a negative manner.
So, if I smile or wave, people will sometimes smile back. It has taken me quite a number of years to get to this point, because when people look at my son, I immediately think they are judging him because of his disability. Some people are, but most people are not.
The points and stares are another thing that is really hard to ignore. I don't understand why people feel as though they can make comments and judgement towards my son.
I have many friends with similar stories. It's heartbreaking and really puts a downer on your day. These negative interactions stay with you for a very long time.
It's a shame because the people that are passing these negative comments are people that don't matter. We don't know them. But it makes such a big impact.
When my other two boys - now 22 and 25 - were completely independent, I found I had some spare time, even though Darcy was still at school.
I had always thought about writing a book about my experiences. I was in my late 40s and didn't know if it was too late ... but it's never too late to achieve something if you really want to!
I met an author who really inspired me, and gave me the confidence to take the plunge to write my first book.
So I wrote about our journey with Darcy. My story included sharing strategies we used with our son, as well as speaking about how feeling excluded in the community made us feel.
How can we make it better was the message that was born from writing this book.
And now, since completing my first book, I have written and published two more! And I am starting work on number four, which will be published when Darcy, now 17, finishes school.
My books The Unexpected Journey, The Magic of Inclusion and From the Hearts of Mums have been extremely successful and I am continuing to raise awareness for Down syndrome and the importance of acceptance and inclusion.
Recently I was given the opportunity to host my own radio show at the local community radio station RPPFM. in Mornington.
With my friend and co-host Tina, we interview local service and support providers to give the community another chance to learn what is available and how to access them.
I believe creating change for a better world for my son and others with disabilities, as well as supporting families in my local community, are what dreams are made of.
My books help others understand that people with Down syndrome (and any disability really) are people like everyone else and belong to families that love them and support them.
They help them to see a positive view of DS, even with challenges along the way.
A lady stopped me once to say thank you. When I asked what I did she told me I had saved her daughter's life.
She said they were going to terminate after receiving a pre-natal diagnosis. She received a beautiful package from a group called Celebrate T21 and my first book was in there. She read it and decided to go ahead with the pregnancy.
Imagine a world where everyone was accepted and included. Wouldn't it be wonderful. Darcy accepts everyone for who they are. It doesn't matter what they look like, if they are verbal or non verbal. He accepts them and gives the most unconditional friendship.
Give people a chance and watch them shine. You truly see magic happen when you just give people a chance.
Find out more about Julie here: https://www.juliefisher.com.au