Meet Vic and Ella!

Let’s celebrate World Down Syndrome Day by ending stereotypes. We spoke to Aruma Behaviour Support Practitioner, Vic Olsson whose daughter has Down Syndrome.

March 21, 2024

Around the globe, people acknowledge World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) on March 21st to raise awareness and celebrate the uniqueness and achievements of people with Down syndrome (also known as Trisomy 21).

This year’s theme is “End the stereotypes,” – and that’s a message that our Aruma Behaviour Support Practitioner, Vic Olsson, is all for!

Her five-and-a-half-year-old daughter Ella has Down syndrome, but there is so much more to her than her diagnosis!

“Ella is amazing. She has so much determination, and her happiness and smile are like no other. She has just started school and is loving it, even if it has been exhausting. Ella loves animals, music, dances in a mainstream dance school, and has even modelled for Big W—she was on their homepage last week,” shared Vic.

“I’m happy that Ella is growing up in a world with so much more representation for people of all abilities. Other kids are more open to seeing disability as normal and not different, but there is still so much more that our society can do.”

When Vic had a blood test while she was pregnant with Ella in 2018, she was told there was a 99% chance that Ella would have Down syndrome. There was a lot of fear put upon her by the medical professionals, which also extended to when Ella was born with everything she ‘wouldn’t be able to do.’

“I disagree with the terminology they use. I was told there was a “risk” when I feel they should use the word “chance.” Ella is not a risk; she is a person. When I had her, I was given a flyer about managing your grief around a Down syndrome diagnosis. I didn’t feel grief, and I knew that society should be doing better than that.”

After taking some time away from social work to focus on Ella, Vic came to work at Aruma as one of our Behaviour Support Practitioners. She says her personal life has given her a unique view of her work and made her even more passionate about getting things right for her clients.

Vic said, “A lot of the participants I support are in their 50’s or 60’s, and many of them have experienced institutionalised care. My heart breaks that they were not given the opportunities Ella has now, but I see my job as a way to let each person have the chance to be heard, feel empowered and have choice in making their own decisions and make the most of the rest of their lives.”

While there are still many stereotypes to overcome (two that Vic really dislikes are the assumption that people with Down syndrome are always happy and that they don’t look like their parents), it’s encouraging to look back and see that a lot of change has been made.

Organisations, like Aruma are dedicated to encouraging people of all abilities to live their best life – the life they choose.


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