THE mum of a young non-verbal girl with Down’s syndrome has praised Barnsley Hospital staff for their work with her daughter.

Five-year-old Phoebe Gill has been attending the hospital for her eyesight - and has been treated by deputy head orthoptist Katy Vella.

Phoebe’s mum, 40-year-old Danielle Gill, praised the staff for signing Makaton - a way of communicating using signs, symbols and speech - as she is non-verbal.

She said: “Phoebe was born at Barnsley Hospital on the 70th anniversary of the NHS and we were all delighted by her arrival.

“She was born with Down’s syndrome and, to be honest, we unfortunately had some negative comments about this.

“There was some stereotyping towards Phoebe.

“She has never let anything hold her back though and is such a happy little girl and loves school.

“She has three big brothers aged 18, 14 and 11 who all know Makaton.

In Text Promo Image

“She is non-verbal, and has what is called an ‘unsafe swallow,’ meaning she can sometimes find it hard to eat and drink.

“But she loves to join in and her teachers say she is doing really well.”

She has been having regularly visits to Barnsley Hospital for eyesight checks and was recently checked for a cyst on her eye.

Danielle added: “It was like a little pea, a red lump, under her eyelid and was itchy and irritating her.

“We did talk about surgery but she was eventually treated with antibiotics and now it is improving.

“She has taken it all in her stride.”

Phoebe, who attends St Helen’s Primary School in Hoyland, celebrated World Down’s Syndrome Day last Thursday - and the school were more than happy to play their part too.

They championed the ‘Lots of Socks’ campaign where people wear mismatched or colourful socks to start a conversation about down’s syndrome.

Phoebe also took part last summer in Barnsley Hospital Charity’s first ever Grand Ball at Tankersley Manor.

She joined other youngsters who dressed in their best princess or prince attire, complete with crowns and tiaras, for a spectacular day to help celebrate the 75th birthday of the NHS.

Katy added: “Orthoptists play a vital role in the assessment and development of vision in children, including those with special educational needs such as Down’s syndrome.

“We are specially trained to assess patients with additional needs such as being non-verbal.”