Sprechen Sie Deutsch?
Me neither, but don’t let that put you off begging, borrowing, stealing or better still, buying, a copy of Conny Wenk’s book, Außergewöhnlich: Väterglück.
The book is packed full of the most beautiful photographs of fathers having fun with their children. The expressions, laughter and playfulness will have you grinning from ear to ear. You cannot help but smile broadly at the love and fun that leaps from image after image, page after page.
It’s the kind of book that makes you feel proud to be a father, and the kind of book you want to send to every father-to-be who is worrying what it will be like to become a parent.
But what makes Außergewöhnlich: Väterglück even more special is every child in it has Down’s Syndrome.
Which in terms of DS advocacy, makes it incredibly powerful.
For people not in the know, the inexperienced and the unfamiliar, if you mention Down’s Syndrome, the likelihood is an image of an institutionalised, vacant staring person with a pudding-bowl haircut, will leap to mind.
And it is images like that, which put the fear of [insert deity of choice] into people faced with the idea of having a child of their own with Down’s Syndrome.
The same image creates debates about whether babies with Down’s Syndrome ought to be aborted before birth.
And why parents who decide to keep and raise a child with Down’s Syndrome are seen either as demons, for allowing perceived genetically abnormal people to survive, or as saints doing charitable work.
But stick any person in an institution from birth, and give them a pudding bowl haircut and you’ll end up with a similar image, DS or no DS.
So what makes Conny’s book so powerful, is it updates the idea of what having a child with Down’s Syndrome is like.
First and foremost, it’s like having a child. Any child.
Children with DS, like all others, laugh, cry, throw tantrums, fling their arms around you and tell you they love you, feel fear, frustration, happiness and refuse to go to bed on time.
I urge you to beg, borrow, steal or better still, buy, a copy of Conny Wenk’s book, Außergewöhnlich: Väterglück, and thrust it under the nose of anyone with preconceived ideas about what Down’s Syndrome is.
And it makes no difference if you can speak German or not.
It appears the best place to buy the book is from amazon.de
All images are copyright of Conny Wenk