Life with Down’s syndrome

What's it like growing up with Down's syndrome? Nicholas, 24, from Belfast, tells us about his experiences.

True Stories

guy with down's syndrome looking up to camera

"I wouldn't change it for the world."

Growing up with Down’s syndrome was ordinary; it’s part of who I am. With Down’s syndrome or not, I want people to know that I’m not special or different. I went to mainstream schools in Belfast. I loved being around other people and making loads of friends. It felt good to achieve my goals, learn about different subjects and develop my own skills. The bad bit about school was being bullied. They had no right to make fun of the condition I have. It hurt, but it didn’t break my heart and soul. Bullies are just people, and I had to accept that life can’t always be easy.

Gaining independence

Now I’ve left school I’ve moved into independent living in Belfast. People of all ages live there, as well as support workers. I love the area I live in and I’m independent 24/7. We do our own cleaning and cooking and share all the tasks. For other young people who would like to live independently I would say it’s a great idea. It’s hard at first, but the time comes when you’re more independent within; I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I work in the Law Courts three days a week addressing labels for envelopes and doing odd jobs as a handyman. My other job is admin work at Heat (a heating and housing company). I’m also at College one day a week learning ICT and admin skills. I keep my personal life outside work, and always have a good attitude towards working.

Understanding Down’s syndrome

I come across lots of misconceptions about people with Down’s syndrome. It’s common for people to think that we are always happy and affectionate, but I can have the same feelings and moods as everyone else! It’s often thought that people with Down’s syndrome can’t form relationships, don’t live very long and can’t achieve ordinary life goals, but these things aren’t true. I have all sorts of relationships, from friendships to loving and disliking people! People with Down’s syndrome can live up to 60 years-old, can achieve ordinary life goals and many now attend mainstream schools, pass GCSEs and live independently. I’d encourage other young people to talk to people with Down’s syndrome to get to know and understand them.

My life achievements

I don’t feel that having Down’s syndrome has held me back from anything in life. Through school, college and work I have achieved lots of things – and I have a great social life. I do Special Olympics, compete in gymnastics, golf and football and I also do drama.

I would love to be a famous public speaker who talks about human rights, but mainly I see my future as having a good job, having my own flat and getting married.

Photo of guy cooking by Shutterstock and posed by model

Next Steps

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015