Edinburgh teen stars in new book designed to dispel Down’s syndrome fears

A disabled teenager from Edinburgh is among the stars of a new book launched to dispel the fears expectant parents have when their child is diagnosed with Down’s syndrome.

Tuesday, 1st October 2019, 6:00 am
Rachel is hoping she can provide inspiration to parents.

Entitled Wouldn’t change a thing, it has been created to help new parents who have received a Down’s syndrome diagnosis for their baby, by highlighting the positive lives lived by the majority of people with the genetic disorder.

Despite those living with the condition being increasingly able to lead full and happy lives, 90 per cent of mothers carrying a child with Down’s syndrome still choose to abort.

The book, made by parents for parents, is hoping to change that and offers a selection of case studies of families from infancy to adulthood, guiding new mums and dads through raising a child with Down’s syndrome.

Among the stars is Rachel Murray, 19, from Corstorphine. She has Down’s syndrome and lives a “happy and fulfilled life” despite her extra chromosome, offering an example of the positive life people with the condition can live.

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The young student is currently completing a college course in food and hospitality and hopes to work as a chef and open her own restaurant in the future.

Rachel’s mother Lynn Murray, 49, is a prominent campaigner against “screening out Down syndrome children” through selective abortions.

She said: “With serious disabilities, you can abort a child right up until birth. I don’t think Down’s syndrome should classify as a serious disability as their health and life outcomes are very different today.”

The mother of four said the fear expectant parents often have around Down’s syndrome comes from misinformation giving them a “very negative$ picture of what it means to live with an extra chromosome.

Lynn said: “Despite this negative picture 99 per cent of people living with the genetic condition say that they enjoy their lives and are happy.

“Rachel is a very positive example of what someone with Down syndrome can achieve in adult life.”

“When I first had Rachel I set my expectations low, that was my prejudice which I took from the society I grew up in – but Rachel has proved me wrong every day since then.

“50 years ago children like Rachel were institutionalised from birth but we have thankfully moved on from this.”

Tania Charlton of #wouldnt-changathing, the organisation behind the book project, said: “The misconceptions about life with a child who has Down’s syndrome are the fundamental cause of fear-of-the-future that impacts new parents with a child with Down’s syndrome. It inhibits them from doing what they want to be doing – enjoying the arrival of their new baby.”