When I heard those words, Down Syndrome, referring to my own newborn son, I reached back into my memory and began pulling forward all the information I could recall. The pieces were disheveled, the files corrupted but from memory, I could recall that it was a genetic disorder, there were 3 copies of the 21st chromosome, there were obvious physical facial characteristics, speech delays and well…I had never carried on a conversation with someone who had Down Syndrome so likely they didn’t have the capacity to carry on lengthy conversations. I had many misconceptions, I had many stereotypes, but I also had some flat-out lies embedded in my subconscious.
Lie #1- My Life Is Over…
I firmly believed, through the surges of salty tears that daily streamed from my red puffy eyes, that life as I knew it was over. I wouldn’t be happy again, I wouldn’t live the life I had come to love, my family would forever be sad and lonely because we now had a child with special needs.
TRUTH: I smile more now than I did just a year ago. I cannot, nor can anyone I have met, look at my son and not smile in return to his gummy grins.
Lie #2- People With Down Syndrome Can’t Carry Meaningful Conversations
Because I had never spoken with someone who had Down Syndrome I mistakenly assumed that there weren’t many articulate thoughts being spoken. I have now had the privilege of speaking with a number of really great people who make me smile, laugh, and WANT to be around them.
TRUTH: Individuals with Down Syndrome have likes, dislikes, opinions, feelings, and thoughts that they would love to express to you if you listen.
Lie #3- People with Down Syndrome are Never Independent
Look no further than youtube or A&E to the show Born This Way to see the possibilities. Not every person with Down Syndrome is capable of complete independence, but more seem to be than previously thought and the numbers are growing every day as we come to expect more.
TRUTH: Each individual should be given the opportunity to prove what they are capable of.
Lie #4- People With Down Syndrome Are A Drain on Resources
There is a need for resources directed at those with Down Syndrome but they are worth it. We are now seeing the amazing benefits of early intervention and high expectations and these lives are worth it.
TRUTH: There are entrepreneurs, public speakers, models, and actors with Down Syndrome who are all giving back.
Lie #5- Those with Down Syndrome Can’t…
Can’t walk, can’t talk, can’t read, can’t write…the list goes on and on. There was a time in the history of the United States, and not that long ago I might add, where mothers were told to put their children with Down Syndrome into institutions and forget about them because they “can’t.” What we now know is that with early intervention they CAN.
TRUTH: They can walk, they can talk, they can do so many things that were previously thought impossible, just give them a chance.
So tell me, what did I miss? What other lies are there out there about Down Syndrome?