In this chapter, we describe how the children in the cohort spend their days—the schools and preschools they attend; the clubs and classes in which they are involved outside school; the toys and activities they enjoy; and their relationships with friends, sisters and brothers.
We were interested in the children’s day-to-day lives for three reasons. It is easy to stereotype children with Down’s syndrome, to regard them just as a ‘worry’, and a ‘burden’, or as ‘passive’ and ‘easy’. All children have busy and varied lives. They occupy numerous different roles both within and outside the family (Lewis, Feiring and Kotsonis, 1984), e.g. pupil, friend, sister or brother, cub or brownie. They spend their time busily engaged in activities that they may share with others or that may be quite private (Davie, Hutt, Vincent and Mason, 1984). They have favourite activities and activities they dislike. We wanted to explore this variety for the children in the cohort: to find out how they differ from one another and what they share in common with one another and with groups of non-handicapped children.
Secondly, we were aware that the day-to-day life of the families, which we explore in later chapters, was dependent to some extent on the day-to-day life of their children. If children can be left alone to amuse themselves or if they play happily with other children, then their mothers may have more free time. If they attend a local playgroup or school, or ‘play out’ on the street with others, their parents may meet other parents and feel part of a community. When young children are delayed in moving through developmental milestones or when younger siblings overtake them, the movement of the family through its lifecycle may be delayed