Jackson Vaughan - Water Babies Star

  |  Published: Dec 18th 2018

“Jackson is just like any other toddler – apart from being a TV star!”

When 31-year-old Emma Vaughan, and her husband Scott, from Hemel Hempstead, were told their unborn baby had Downs Syndrome, the young couple didn’t know what to expect. To their horror, many specialists advised termination, but the couple were adamant that this was out of the question. When baby Jackson arrived, the Vaughan family was complete.  Now 18 months old, Jackson can do most things that any other little boy can do – he loves his weekly swimming lessons, playing with big brother, Mason, and he’s even had a starring role on ITV’s ‘This Morning’. Impressive for any one-year old!

“Holly (Willoughby) was quite taken with Jackson!” explained Emma. “We were interviewed as part of a feature This Morning were doing with ‘Wouldn’t Change A Thing’ – a Downs Syndrome charity that we support. It makes me so proud to think of all of the things Jackson has achieved, despite his condition. He does everything his older brother did, including swimming lessons, every Saturday, with Water Babies. There can be a real ‘can’t do’ attitude when it comes to Downs Syndrome, but I think children like Jackson should be given just as many opportunities as any other child their age.”

When Emma and Scott were given their initial diagnosis, at their 12-week scan, many of the practitioners who met with the couple encouraged them to terminate the pregnancy. Unfortunately, this isn’t uncommon – less than 10% of parents choose to keep the child. With many cases of Downs Syndrome coming hand-in-hand with more complicated health conditions, such as heart defects and digestion complications, doctors often advise a termination. For Emma and Scott, this was never an option.

“We never thought, for one second, that we wouldn’t cope. We would give this child just as much love and care that we had given to Mason and if our new little one needed extra help along the way, we would make it work. When Jackson was born, he was such a little ball of happiness and fitted into our family perfectly. We have always been so determined that both boys would have the same experiences so, when Jackson was three months old, he followed in his big brother’s footsteps – or should I say, doggy paddles? – and had his first swimming lesson with Water Babies!”

Jackson now swims with his Mum every Saturday morning, at the MS Centre in Wendover. The half an hour Emma has with her youngest provides some crucial one-on-one time, to develop a key skill but to also have fun, splashing around in the pool. A common characteristic of Downs Syndrome is hypotonia, which causes low muscle tone – meaning most people with the condition face regular physiotherapy sessions. According to Emma, swimming with Water Babies has significantly improved Jackson’s core strength – and his hand-eye coordination too! 

“One of the best things about taking Jackson to his Water Babies lessons is that it’s physio he doesn’t know about! During his daily physio sessions, he can get quite tired and frustrated, but in the pool, he’s none the wiser. Although he’s not quite at the same stage as the rest of the children in his class, our teacher Katharyn does a fantastic job of adapting the exercises slightly to suit us. Jackson’s sense of confidence in the water never fails to amaze me and he seems to be hitting a different milestone every week. He really loves his time in the pool and with so many benefits, I don’t think we’ll be stopping anytime soon.”

Tamsin Brewis, who owns Water Babies Bucks and Beds, takes great pride in seeing children, like Jackson, enjoying their swimming classes.

“At Water Babies, our focus has always been making sure our little swimmers get as much as they can out of their sessions. We invest a lot of time and resources into adapting where necessary to suit the little ones who swim with us. It’s because of this that Jackson is able to swim with Water Babies, and Emma – like all of the other parents who bring their children to swim with us – can feel safe in the knowledge that their child is in the best possible hands.”

Jackson in the pool
Jackson in the pool
Jackson with mum Emma
Jackson with mum Emma
Jackson on This Morning
Jackson on This Morning.
Images courtesy Water Babies Bucks & Beds, Vaughan family, ITV.
Images courtesy Water Babies Bucks & Beds, Vaughan family, ITV.
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