Pat Hartley, 74, lives with her son Craig, 42, who has Down syndrome. Craig was born when Pat was 32. At birth, he was completely blue and was immediately whisked away for testing. It wasn't until another 24 hours passed that Pat was told her baby had Down syndrome — though she was given no information on what this meant for Craig’s future or for them as a family. As a result of Craig’s diagnosis, Pat was isolated into a separate ward away from the expectant mothers she had become close to. All Pat could think was, “How can I help Craig?” But while the staff in the hospital were lovely, they weren’t able to answer her question.
Pat recalls how the doctors simply “wrote Craig off.” Craig stayed in the hospital for six weeks because he had no sucking reflexes. When Pat was eventually able to take Craig home, she had no information about how to properly care for Craig. She had been “left in the dark,” relying on her instincts (for example, feeding him glucose instead of sugar as the hospital had done).
As there was nowhere else to go, Pat turned to the Down’s Syndrome Association (DSA) for help, which gave her lots of advice and support. She came to see the charity as her lifeline.
As Craig grew up, he developed a keen interest in literature. Pat recalls, “I always read to him. He preferred books to toys, and he always wanted to learn.” And when Craig was five, an educational psychologist assessed him as above average for his age group.
As a teenager, Craig started writing poems. His experiences as a child inspired him to write "Troubles of a Boy." Now, Craig has become an accomplished writer. He has written over 100 poems and counting, and his work has even been published. Craig is also a successful dancer: he has passed dance exams and won many competitions for tap, ballroom, old time, and Latin American dancing.
As a student, Craig achieved qualifications in Business Administration, Creative Writing, and Desktop Publishing. When he finished college, Craig was keen to be employed. He has worked in England for Lancashire Constabulary, Burnley Youth Theater, and more recently, Community Solutions North West as an invaluable member of their administration team. He is a self-confessed perfectionist who loves to read, watch movies, and listen to music, and is driven to succeed.
Craig lives with Pat, while his sister Dawn lives nearby. They all have a very close relationship and a busy life together. They go dancing, take vacations together, socialize with friends and family, and like to go shopping. As Pat says, “We are out every day!”
Pat thinks Craig is remarkable and is very proud of him. In her own words, she “couldn’t ask for a better son.” Scroll down to read some of Craig's beautiful poetry.
Troubles of a Boy
They cuff me and call me names
But one day I will rise to fame
The world is just a game
I’m changing into a man
There are things that I can’t do and can
At school I’m treated like a fool
To be a man you have to be cool
At night when I go to bed
I wish and wish that I was dead
When I waken up I find
I’m still going through life’s grind
Sometimes I wander from the path of life
And find myself on the path of strife.
At every step I take I fall.
But I will get to my true goal.
One Man’s Struggle
I’ll follow my heart wherever it leads
No organization will sway me
I will stand firm, my honor uphold
Even though I am deterred by those who oppose me
I follow my river of strength
Alone, in the vast sea, engulfed in my own dreams
Will I be dashed against the rocks?
Or will I be able to defy the tide?
But I strike out regardless through the velvet darkness
One man’s struggle to face the odds.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Yours.