Sunday, 27 May 2018 14:41

Mums capture the immense bond between two toddlers with Down’s syndrome

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This is Clara and Cutler.

They’ve been inseparable since their mums began arranging play dates for them when they were just a few months old. Amy Sanders (Cutler’s mum) and Lana Beaton (Clara’s) knew each other growing up but didn’t become close friends until they both gave birth to children with Down’s syndrome within months of each other. And now, best friends Clara and Culter do everything together – even sharing their physical, occupational and speech therapy sessions. Lana sent Amy a Facebook message after she heard that her son had the same condition as her daughter, and they arranged to meet at a local Starbucks. Their babies have been best friends ever since.
Lara, 39, found out that Clara had Down’s syndrome at her 20-week scan and joined local support groups in her area. ‘I thought [by] my connecting with Amy we might be a good support for one another,’ she says. ‘I sent her a sensitive message asking her if Cutler had an extra chromosome like Clara and Amy wrote back within an hour. ‘We met up about a week later in a local Starbucks and we really connected.’
The babies’ bond was immediately obvious. Amy, 43, says that: ‘It was really amazing to connect with Lana because she’s such an amazing advocate for Down’s Syndrome. ‘We first met up at the bookstore and we brought the babies with us. ‘Lana is such a calming and confident person and became a great support to me. We arranged some playdates for them both the rest is history.’ The babies might share the same condition but their personalities are completely different, with Clara being the outgoing one and Cutler hanging back. ‘He admires people from afar but he’s definitely more cautious than Clara,’ says Amy. ‘We try to have playdates as often as we can and they have their speech and occupational therapies together twice a week. ‘Everybody is blown away by their friendship. Everybody is smitten with them.’
Despite her outgoing personality, Clara has had to deal with a number of medical set-backs, including having open heart sugerry at just three-months-old. She also has Hirschsprung’s disease, which impacts the nerves in her colon making it difficult for her to pass stool. ‘You wouldn’t think it from her personality, but Clara is a medically fragile child so we are always in and out of hospital,’ says mum Lara. ‘But they stay in touch with videos which is great. ‘When they are together they have such fun, they chase each other and watch movies – right now Clara is obsessed with High School Musical’.
Amy and Lara have now set up a blog about the two babies, in the hope of providing a platform for other parents who are raising children with Down’s. ‘The blog has been such a great way to network with other parents and we love keeping everyone up to date with Clara and Cutler. ‘It’s been a lot of fun. They’re just such a great team, I think we all feel very blessed and lucky that they’re in our lives.’