Dennis' Story

Dennis, who has just turned five years old, is the youngest of five siblings, has Down's syndrome and a multitude of other serious health problems which make him extremely vulnerable.

Despite facing so much in his short life, mum Helen describes her little boy as a 'survivor' who 'takes everything in his stride.' Helen says:

"Dennis has an enthusiastic curiosity towards the things he comes across each day and he finds so much joy in cuddling and playing with the people who are around him. He has a cheeky giggle and infectious smile that can brighten any grumpiness or sadness which is in the air - he is such a tonic to us all”.

The first lockdown was busy for Helen caring for Dennis in the safety of the family’s home, especially as all schooling, therapies, appointments and medical care had moved online. Wearing more hats than usual, Helen took the lead in keeping everything running as smoothly as possible for Dennis.

Demelza stepped in by adapting its services online; offering Friday ‘coffee and chat’ sessions which helped to reduce the isolation that Helen was feeling. And with lockdown and shielding delaying Dennis’ start in reception at school, the online sessions helped to life his spirits enormously.

“Music therapy is a must for us,” says Helen. “I whack up the sound while Dennis lies on the sofa. His hearing is impaired but he feels the vibrations through the sofa. He also loves attending the under 5s Little Dots virtual sessions and the props are getting more and more flamboyant – Dennis loves it.”

Dennie is wearing a reindeer jumper, playing with a glow stick.

Subsequent lockdowns have put further pressure on the family and increased their sense of isolation. Officially, Dennis is still shielding until the end of March. It is looking increasingly likely that he won’t return to school until September this year, or until he is able to receive the COVID vaccination – the family are hopeful that the current vaccine trials on children will be successful.

The family have such a positive outlook and as the world begins to open up and with Spring just around the corner, mum Helen is looking forward to brighter days ahead: “home has kept Dennis safe over the last year but we can’t wait to visit Demelza again”.