By Harriet Whitehead
A mum was outraged after claiming her son with Down’s Syndrome was abused on a bus – with another passenger saying she ‘couldn’t deal with that’.
Angie Theakston, 43, was mortified when the elderly woman told her four-year-old son Joey to ‘shut up’ and then said ‘is he Down Syndrome? I couldn’t deal with that’.
The mum-of-four, who said the experience will stay with her forever, shared what happened on social media in a bid to raise awareness and encourage people to think before they speak.
Angie said her son had been so excited to go on a bus ride after they’d been out for the day on Saturday.
Angie, from Beverley, East Yorkshire, said: “It’s something that will stay with me forever. Thankfully he’s at that age where he’s not bothered which I’m thankful for. It hurt me more than it hurt him.
“He was so excited to get the bus. We don’t get one that often but we’d had a walk into town and decided to get one home.
“He was really excited in the bus station, he just wanted to get on any bus. When it arrived and we were in the queue he couldn’t wait to get on.
“He was babbling away and he wasn’t being naughty but was just being a bit loud because of the excitement.
“This woman turned round, looked at him and said ‘shut up’. She looked and me and said ‘I’m not his mum so he might listen to me’.
“I felt really uncomfortable.”
Angie, who works in human resources, said Joey chose to sit behind the woman and reached out to touch a bobble on her wooly hat.
She said: “He was interested in this lady’s wooly hat because of the pom pom.
“He reached forward and touched it and she jumped up, then she said to the woman in front ‘is he Down Syndrome? I couldn’t deal with that’.
“I was gobsmacked. I could see the lady she said it to was also mortified.
“I said to this lady that if she had any questions I would be happy to answer them but I’m not sure if she didn’t hear me or if she ignored me.
“Sometimes people will look at him and I appreciate that because we do look at things that are different. This is the first time I’ve had someone talk about him right in front of me like that and that really hurt.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I got home. I was angry with myself for not saying anything at the time but I was also glad because Joey’s very sensitive so if I would have raised my voice it would have been upsetting for him.”
Angie, who is also mum to Holly, 15, Emily, 24, and Beth, 21, and is separated from Joey’s dad Stuart Huntley, 36, set up a social media page when Joey was born to raise awareness of Down’s Syndrome and show other parents what to expect and how joyful it can be.
Her post on what happened has been shared more than 15,000 times and attracted thousands of comments.
Angie said: “I didn’t want to point the finger or name this particular lady but I wanted to raise awareness and ask people to be mindful of what they say. This is something that will stay with me forever.
“I also wanted to say my son has got Down’s Syndrome but he is not Down’s Syndrome. It’s a condition it does not define who he is.
“Joey is an amazing, happy little boy. He keeps me on my toes. He loves everything, he loves playing with his toys and going out on a little adventure. He’s in a mainstream school and does really well.
“The first thing I thought when he was born and we found out he had Down’s Syndrome was that I didn’t want people to pick on him, but everywhere we go people gravitate towards him.
“Everyone who knows him adores him. He’s an absolute joy.”
The youngster has also done some modelling for the Early Learning Centre having signed up with Zebedee Management.
Angie said: “To me he’s the most gorgeous boy on earth. When he modelled for the Early Learning Centre that was the proudest moment of my life.”