Luca was diagnosed with Down's syndrome just after he was born, and it was a huge shock for us.
We didn't get much information at all; we got a booklet about Down's syndrome but it didn't tell us much about real life. There wasn't any support available to us, the only support was through Mencap so getting him a place there was such a relief.
Luca was referred to Segal House by his physiotherapist, and was lucky to get a place there when he'd just turned 2. I wasn't sure about sending him there, because he was so young and he'd never been out of our care; it was a big thing to trust someone else with him.
It took a while for Luca to settle, but the staff were unbelievable. They were so kind and patient to him and to me, that made a huge difference. They got to know us and they got to know my anxieties so they could help me. All the things they did were so important, because you do feel on your own when you don't have that peer group to relate to.
There was a lot of work involved in settling him in, but once he did he started to thrive.
Luca is very good at signing, and it has been such an important part of his nursery experience. Because everyone else signs too he wasn't "Luca, the boy with Down's syndrome", he was just "Luca".
His signing has come on a lot as well as his communication, because they do a lot of repetition. At Mencap he's just part of his group of peers, he's totally accepted. He's become a little more assertive as well, and he's learnt to share. He's developed relationships with other adults as well.
Luca has got a lovely sense of humour. He has taught us more than we could ever teach him because he deals with challenges so well. It's really humbling to watch him sometimes. He didn't walk until he was 3; you watch him going round steps and he works out his own ways to do them. Socially, he has made some friends, and it's been really helpful for me to meet other Mums. We've had a lot of support to address some of the issues for our children moving on from Mencap into education. Mencap help you to do it yourself, which is so important to help you feel like you've got some control when everything else can be so out of control.
It's very hard to find other people in your situation, so there's that extra connection to meet other parents through Mencap.
Talk to other parents and family carers
70 years ago Judy Fryd reached out to fellow parents of children with a learning disability, to share her anger and frustration at the lack of support and provision available. From this, Mencap was born.
To celebrate our 70th birthday, and in honour of Judy, we've launched a new online community for parents of children with a learning disability. Parents, like Judy, who are seeking advice and support from others like them.
Our online community is a place to share your experiences, triumphs and challenges.