I had the opportunity to speak to Christian’s mother, Helen Royal, recently. We immediately bonded over shared experiences. Talking to her was like talking to a friend I’ve know for years. Helen identifies as a “storyteller” for good reason. For one, she’s an excellent communicator and has a brilliant sense of humor. Most importantly though, is that Helen has a compelling story to tell. She hopes that by sharing her story about helping her son find his passion she’ll inspire the rest of us to keep looking and not give up, no matter what the “professionals” tell us.
While looking for ways for Christian to have a balanced experience with homeschool, Helen sought the advice of a trusted friend. The friend suggested pottery, and the rest, as they say “is history.” Christian’s interest and passion was recognized by his teacher and family right away. Since the Royals were not experienced potters themselves, developing Christian’s interest and skill meant yet another learning curve for his parents. Unlike the endless cycle of new topics that we as parents of children who have special needs are forced to learn and become fluent in (diagnoses, labels, therapies, education rules, benefit and legal options, etc.), this was something fun! Through a combination of dedicated support and the uncanny luck of finding and cultivating the right relationships, the Royals followed their son. They made the road available to him, and now he leads them where his creativity wants to go. It’s a truly remarkable tale of family, support, love, and faith in every person’s ability to make a difference in the world.
As Christian educates and inspires us, his parents reach out to help others as well. Helen talked about projects and individuals that she supports like the young woman who makes beautiful scarves, and a community (http://www.coventryreserve.org/) that is being created to support adults who have Down syndrome and their aging parents. Even the little things like allowing people to “see how much I love him” have an impact on attitudes. We all have a story to tell and an opportunity to change the assumptions made about Down syndrome. What I learned from my new friend is that everyone deserves the chance to find that something that they love to do. Don’t settle for less and don’t give up looking.
The stories here deserve to be shared and I thank IDSC for the opportunity to hear them!
To see Christian’s pottery visit his website: http://christianroyalpottery.com/
He’s also on Facebook (http://christianroyalpottery.com/ ) and Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/source/christianroyalpottery.com/).
You can watch the documentary about his pottery at the Joni and Friends (http://www.joniandfriends.org/television/christian-royal-potters-hands/) website.