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Meet Ariel and her mum Raylene
When Raylene and her partner brought their newborn baby girl Ariel home from the hospital, she admits she really didn't know much about looking after a baby. Like most new mums, she was learning on the job! Between nappy changes, feeds and sleepless nights Raylene was also dealing with her feelings around Ariel's diagnosis of Down Syndrome.
"At the beginning you are always on the verge of tears. Your emotions are raw anyway and then you have to tell people your child has Down Syndrome"
Ariel's family started early intervention when she was only a few weeks old. Raylene was unsure of what to expect and how much time they would need to be working with Ariel on top of caring for her and enjoying family life.
"My Key Worker at Lifestart who is an Occupational Therapist was really supportive. She was able to show me some simple things that I could do with Ariel to help her along. The best part was the activities were really easy to do during the day so it didn't feel like work!"
As Ariel grew and the family settled into a routine, Raylene looked for opportunities to socialise and meet other mums. Raylene admits the thought of joining her local mother's group was a bit daunting. What she was looking for was a group of mothers who could understand what her family was going through.
"My Lifestart Key Worker put me in touch with some other mums who have babies, some of them have Down Syndrome. We started meeting on a Friday and from there we started our mother's group called Little Vegemites".
Raylene soon looked forward to Fridays and the group has organised some fun activities for mums and their babies to do together like music sessions.
"We are really enjoying learning some songs and the kids really love music. I found out about a music workshop being held at Lifestart and I've signed up so I can get more ideas about how to help Ariel while we are having fun together".
Little Vegemites is also a place where Raylene feels comfortable sharing the good and not so good things that happen day to day with Ariel.
"The group gives me so much support emotionally. I can offload and have a chat to others about things I wouldn't necessarily talk about with anyone else. It's a really safe space".
Ariel has just turned one and the family enjoyed a big party with friends and relatives. This important milestone has been a time for Raylene to reflect on the last year and all the family have accomplished together.
"When Ariel was born I didn't know what would happen and how much she would be able to learn. Ariel is now crawling and trying to stand up; she is making sounds and trying to communicate with us. I never imagined she would be doing so well".
When asked what has been important for them as a family in the past year, Raylene responded -
"Getting into early intervention as soon as possible. We can really see the benefits every time we see Ariel trying new things. Meeting my Key Worker and the other mums was definitely the support I needed".
Link to Raylene's blog
Would you like to follow Ariel's and Raylene's story? Visit Raylene's blog and read about their experiences: www.arielsworld.com.au
Raylene is using her many talents to raise money for the Down Syndrome Association and Lifestart through selling candles. $5 from every candle sold will be donated to charity. Go to www.arielsworld.com.au to find out more about the "Ariel" candle.
Find out more about Early Intervention and how it can help your family. Visit www.ecia.org.au
Lifestart's youtube clips - What is a key worker
See what Arial has learnt at her music group. Raylene and Ariel singing- Pattie Cake