After reading Kristen’s book, I must admit feeling quite intimidated by the thought of meeting this impressive woman in person. But I didn’t need to be. She is one of the most humble, gracious and kind hearted women I know, with an incredible ability to just get in and make things happen. I admire her tenacious spirit and all she has achieved, as well as the dedication she has to helping other families. Thank you, Kristen, for keeping us entertained with tales of Gryffin’s adventures, for your generosity in sharing your time and wealth of knowledge, and for sharing your story here with us. ~ Annie x
When I was asked to write about our life with Down syndrome in October, my thoughts went straight back to the first few weeks of Gryffin’s life. And I reflected on my thoughts, expectations and attitudes – then and now.
It feels like so much more than just 9 years has passed…
I wished I had a crystal ball – just so I could know if this pain would ever go away. Would I ever stop crying, will my son ever play sport, have a girlfriend, have a best friend? Would he be the kid sitting on the sidelines while other kids kicked the ball? Would he ever have an intellectual conversation with me, understand humour or share a close bond with his dad?
Will I be any good at this??
So often, I wish I could show that new mother of tiny baby Gryffin, who was born with Down syndrome, what lies ahead. If I could write a postcard to myself back in 2006, this is what I would say.
YES this adventure will be tough, challenging and you’ll have to dig deeper than you ever thought possible to search for clues to make a difference, but the rewards will be bountiful and will go on for years.
YES you’re on the right track by daring to disbelieve the negative stories you’re reading; trust your intuition because not everything will be right for this child and our family, but you will know which paths to choose.
- Expect – do not accept. Read this speech by Paul Daugherty and make it your mantra. Apply it to E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G and never let up. Because this kid CAN do anything!!!
- You don’t have to worry about your son and his dad. They’ll be just fine (two peas in a pod really…!)
- Worried about capacity for word-play? Check this at age 4 ½ !
- Concerned about social skills, how he will fit in, will he make friends? Relax… he’ll get there, and he’ll want to have parties all… the… time!
- You’ll read a lot about this child’s physical limitations – poor balance, ligament instability, vision impairment – these, you will read, are just some of the factors which will inevitably result in this child having mild to severe mobility issues, despite the fact that he has athletes on both sides of the family – this, you will be told, will be completely outweighed by his permanent genetic compromise.
Once again – this will not be your experience with this child. In fact, he’ll run marathons & be a gymnast.
He’ll be the kid walking across the top of the monkey bars, scaring other parents half to death while you’ll know that he’s safe and confident on his own up there – like just about every other boy his age!
- Your tears will turn to tears of pride when he walks for the first time, runs for the first time, reads words out loud before he’s 2 and begs for ‘more interesting books’ because he’s bored with his school readers. You’ll cry with pride when he swings on the parallel bars at gymnastics or makes a new friend at the park. Big, fat, embarrassing tears of joy, and plenty of them.
Through all of this, you’ll find a path which will take some time to prove and you’ll decide to share this path with others. You’ll wrestle with this decision – making this child’s life public in words, pictures and video. A gamble this will be – absolutely, and you’ll wonder if you’re doing the right thing by him, by your family, by yourself. But parents in 30 countries will read his story and children’s lives will get better – and this child will be proud to be able to help.
And as I write this, Gryffin Morrison is about to turn 9. He’s a sassy, funny, smart and bubbly little man with energy to burn. He loves play dates, soccer and his bunny called Finn. He hates formal dress shopping and he has an opinion – about E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G!
And so has come the day he realises that typing his name into google pulls up a catalogue of articles, pictures and videos. And on the day this happens, the conversation goes like this:
Mum: ‘why are you so famous Gryff?’
G: ‘because I have Down syndrome.’
Mum: ‘and what does that mean?’
G: ‘It means I’m handsome!’
And that – right there – is about as important as Down syndrome is to him, and to us.
When Kristen Morrison’s third child was born, her focus immediately shifted to natural therapies and alternative interventions to help him achieve his best. Through her book, Naturally Better, Kristen imparts a wealth of knowledge to the wider community, now providing hope and strategies to families worldwide. In 2013, Kristen presented at the Mission Possible, International Down Syndrome Convention. Her not-for-profit organisation Grow Foundation brings a team of Child Brain Developmentalists from Philadelphia to Melbourne every year to help Australian parents improve the lives of their own children with all forms of neurological conditions. Kristen and her husband Joseph established Street Organics Wholefoods Store & Cafe in Melbourne in 2011. To get in contact with Kristen, you can email her at email@example.com
‘Naturally Better’ is available in paperback or e-book. “This book is an invaluable source for anyone wanting to tackle and conquer the myriad of challenges that our kids face. Kristen has listened to her heart and followed her instincts in a holistic manner, on how to heal and assist her son in achieving his personal best! This family’s journey reminds us that we have the power to be the masters of our destiny and we instinctively know that there is much we can do that is not necessarily the road most travelled.” ~ Deborra-Lee & Hugh Jackman