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The mentally handicapped have always made me nervous. They make me nervous still. This is not a road to Damascus story. Nor is it a story about triumph through personal adversity. I have three perfectly healthy young children. But it is, nevertheless, a story about change.

Three days before my oldest daughter, now 14, was born, my cousin and his wife also had a baby, Mary. For no apparent reason Mary was born with Down’s syndrome. After her birth, her aunt, the young writer Maggie Parham, learnt about a man in France who had devoted his (rather unusual) life to…

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