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Boss of award winning ASL write to Emmerdale bosses over Downs Syndrome story line

Health / Wed 18th Nov 2020 at 08:25am

THE HEAD of an award-winning organisation that offers employment opportunities and day care to young adults with additional needs has written to the producers of the soap opera Emmerdale over a controversial story line.

Michelle Tohill runs ASL (Aspire Support Learning). They have been highly praised for their work, especially with young people with Downs Syndrome.

A forthcoming plotline will see Laurel Thomas (Charlotte Bellamy) and Jai Sharma (Chris Bisson) delighted when they unexpectedly get pregnant.

But an early scan will show the pregnancy isn’t developing as expected and there is the possibility the baby has a chromosomal condition.

They decide to have a CVS (chorionic villus sampling) test, which is used to determine chromosomal or genetic disorders in a foetus. The result they receive tells them the baby has Down’s syndrome.

Laurel and Jai will then be seen agonising over what to do, before ultimately deciding to end the pregnancy.

Emmerdale already has one character with Down’s syndrome – Rhona and Marlon’s nine-year-old son Leo.

Here is Michelle’s letter.

Dear Emmerdale Producers,

I am very upset by your discrimination and stereotyping of people with Down Syndrome which is sadly going to be aired into family homes across the UK.

By doing this you will be taking our society back years. It has taken lots of families, organisations and charities to break down these barriers and finally get to a place where people are more accepting and understanding of people with Down Syndrome.

Yes, some babies with Down Syndrome have underlying health issues but so do lots of so-called healthy babies. My baby was born healthy until she got to 5 years old and was diagnosed with severe epilepsy which affected her all the way through school, held her back and made her different from other kids. A bit like a child who also happens to have Down Syndrome!

Would I have terminated her had they told me this…….NO WAY.

Your views are uneducated and scaremongering I am not sure who your researchers are but what they should of done is visited our Tea Room which was specifically built on working with adults with Down Syndrome and I can tell you I would much rather work with them any day of the week than someone you interpret as “normal” they are kind, witty, non-judgemental, clever, strong, talented, positive, happy, fun and they bring a smile to every customer we serve. We have worked so hard to break down these barriers, having Down Syndrome is only a very small part of these young people’s lives.

They can live a very happy and fulfilling one and I know if you did come to visit you would still be welcomed with open arms by them all even after this horrendous scaremongering storyline you are putting together.

Your storyline really needs a different outcome one of hope, pride, fun and a lifetime of love like no other because that is the real outcome of having a child with Down Syndrome.

Please reconsider.
Yours sadly
Michelle Tohill
CEO
Aspire Support Learn CIC

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1 Comment for Boss of award winning ASL write to Emmerdale bosses over Downs Syndrome story line:

Suzy gumble
2020-11-18 21:31:52

Well done michelle x

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