Image source - my phone
To set the scene: We're in a packed out club in central London, dancing away like we do. People are being a bit pushy, and I'm just having a look around whilst dancing. The next thing I know, there is this very short, older man, who has Downs Syndrome, dancing his way over to us.
It was one of the most heart warming experiences I have ever had. He was so happy, a great big grin from ear to ear.
Unfortunately, you get eggs in places like this who like to poke and make fun of people less able than them. I stepped in to prevent this from happening, and me and my two friends started dancing again, this time, with Fred*.
When I realised the intent of his gazes, Fred was trying to copy my dance moves. One might cringe at the thought of this, I can be rather uncoordinated let alone wild. Luckily 'I Believe in a thing called love' came on, which used to be a favourite dance-around-the-lounge-with-air-guitars tune. Out came those air guitars, and we played like we had never played before.
If it was possible, Fred's smile just got bigger.
The song finished, and a man came over to us and was trying to coax Fred into going back with him. Fred went with this man, gave us a wee wave goodbye whilst clutching his beer for dear life. The man returned a second later, put his arm around me and said, "Thank you. Thank you so much. You've just made his night"
And with that, this experience goes to the top of the list of one of the best nights in my life.
I find the way I react to or around people with learning difficulties or who are less able than myself, has changed so drastically, I even get shocked by it sometimes. Working with children who have multiple and complex learning difficulties, has completely opened up my world. In fact, it's rocked my world.
I spend six and a half hours with my children a day, changing their worlds one tiny small step at a time, then they're out of my hands. This happens five days a week. What happens outside of school hours? What's going to happen when they're older? Is there any glimmer of being able to enjoy every-day things that are 'normal' for us?
I find there's such a perception that people like Fred shouldn't be in a club, I can understand why, but he's a human too. Why can't he enjoy a beer and a boogie?
Fred* - I didn't know his real name, but he suits being a Fred.