The following series of nine video clips feature Mel and her family. Mel is mother to three boys - Jamie, Ryan and Ethan. Her middle son Ryan was diagnosed post-birth with Down syndrome.
Introducing Melanie Mora
Melanie Mora introduces her family - husband Richard and their three sons, Jamie, Ryan and Ethan. Her second son Ryan was diagnosed post-birth with Down syndrome.
The first 24 hours after diagnosis
Mel talks about the first 24 hours after receiving the unexpected news that her newborn son Ryan was being tested for Down syndrome.
Early on, following the diagnosis, Mel and her husband put on a brave face and projected positivity because they knew others would take their cues from them.
How others see Ryan
Mel discusses other children's reactions to Ryan. She says that kids don't see the same differences that adults do. Mel thinks that as each generation comes through with more exposure to the host of health issues that are out there facing children, there'll be more empathy and they'll be better people for it.
Mel talks about the challenges associated with raising Ryan.
Mel describes her parenting style
Mel says one of the hard things about having a child with special needs is that you become more conscious as a parent. More input is required to help your child meet developmental milestones. Mel says the best thing you can do for your child is to let them know they are loved and accepted.
Impact on Mel and her husband as a couple
Mel discusses how having Ryan has affected her relationship with her husband. She says when you're faced with challenges you dig deep. Mel and Richard's relationship has strengthened as a result.
The impact on siblings
Mel discusses the impact of having a child with special needs on siblings. She thinks for siblings, learning that everyone is different and has different needs can only be a positive thing.
The importance of looking after yourself
Mel stresses that when you have a child with special needs, it is particularly important to stay strong, focus on the big picture and look after yourself and your relationship.
Our thanks to Melanie Mora for so generously sharing her story with us.
© Paediatric Society of New Zealand and Starship Foundation 2005 – 2014
Printed on 08 March 2014. Content is regularly updated so please refer to www.kidshealth.org.nz for the most up-to-date version