Family Share Importance of Local School to Mark World Down Syndrome Day

March 21, 2022

For many children and young people across Scotland who have complex additional needs such as Downs Syndrome, accessing the right blend of education and support can be a challenge.


Today marks World Downs Syndrome a global day aimed at raising awareness and improving understanding of the genetic condition. Camphill school Aberdeen (CSA), has been providing exceptional care to children and young people with Downs Syndrome and other additional support needs for over 80 years.


For one Aberdeen family, the difference they have experienced in the short time since their 18-year-old son joined Camphill School Aberdeen’s “Learning For Life” Day Services, for young people aged 16-25, earlier this year has been truly transformational.


Adam Brock secured a place at the school after graduating from Special Education Needs School (SEN) Orchard Brae in June last year. He attends the school two days a week and enjoys meaningful activities such as working on the farm, swimming, taking part in craft workshops and art classes.


His mum, Stephanie Brock, said:  “I really didn’t know what home life would be like after Adam stated at CSA Day Services, I thought he may be really tired after returning home but he comes in bouncing, it has truly switched something on in him and he has realised that there is more in this world for him. Camphill School Aberdeen has as given him a sense of purpose and it means the absolute world to us as a family. Adam goes to ‘work’ on a Wednesday and a Friday and CSA has made him truly fulfilled and we are so grateful.”


When Adam Brock was born at home in Erlangen, Germany on August 29th 2003. Mum Stephanie thought her baby boy was healthy and content, but two days after his birth, Adam was rushed to hospital where he was diagnosed with Sepsis. What was to come was far from what Stephanie and husband, Brian, thought the first week of their new baby’s life would be. 


During the two weeks that Adam spent in Neonatal Intensive Care, he was diagnosed with ASD (Atrial septal defect) and VSD (ventricular septal defect) which meant he had two holes in his heart and need surgery. While baby Adam was in the unit, staff tested him for Downs Syndrome, as ASD and VSD are linked to the genetic condition but results came back inconclusive, giving Stephanie and Brian no further answers on their son. The family were told that Adam was strong enough to go home but would need to come back into hospital a few months later for the lifesaving surgery.


“During the period between Adam’s birth and his surgery life was normal, but one day close to his surgery date to fix his heart, Adam and I were in a park close to our home and a woman came up to me and told me that her son also had Downs Syndrome. That made me decide that we needed to know one way or the other, so while in hospital for his surgery, we asked for Adam to be retested for Downs Syndrome and the results came back positive.”


The family moved to Aberdeen in 2004 after Adam’s dad, Brian, secured a job at the University of Aberdeen. Stephanie reached out for support from local charities and to meet other families who had children with Downs. Adam accessed services and education from several SEN schools in Aberdeen, before graduating Orchard Brae in June last year.


After he left Orchard Brae, Stephanie and Brian wanted to ensure that their son would have access to meaning opportunities and that is when they applied to Camphill School Aberdeen, young adult provision.


Stephanie said: “Adam wasn’t sleeping and he was just really bored at home, it was a hard time waiting to hear if he would be able to access the amazing services at CSA. After lots of back-and-fourth emails, I got the call to say we could go for a tour and if the school was suitable for him, he would be able to attend.”


“I can’t put into words how happy Adam was during his tour around Murtle Estate and the Day Service Workshops. Adam is non-verbal but you can tell when he is happy or when he is stressed, I really had to convince him to come home as he loved it so much. That evening after Adam was in bed, I felt such a relief, I knew he would receive the best care and really thrive at the school.”


“Before Adam started at CSA, the staff took their time to really make sure they painted the perfect picture for him, that he took part in activities he enjoyed, they knew what he didn’t liked and didn’t like and knew how Adam worked,” added.


Camphill School Aberdeen which is based across three campuses in the west of the city, delivers life-transforming opportunities for children and young people with learning disabilities and complex additional support needs. The charity who currently support 95 children and young people; recently launched an ambitious campaign to raise £10 million over the next 10 years to enable it to expand its vital services to more youngsters in the region. To find our more go to - Capital Appeal

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