People can say some of the most hurtful things to one another. Think you’ve heard some truly awful stuff? Try being the parent of a child with Down syndrome.
Babies with Down syndrome are born with 47 chromosomes instead of 46, and the severity of their symptoms varies. But there are some pretty common physical signs that accompany Down syndrome, and that opens these kids — and their parents — up to everything from rude staring to downright cruel comments.
Sadly, some people don’t even realize they’re being offensive!
The Stir asked the parents of some children with Down syndrome to share some of the ridiculous comments they hear most often about their beautiful babies. If you’ve ever said anything on the list, consider this your notice not to say it again!
1. Oh, he looks so normal — Normal as opposed to what?
2. I’m so sorry — “What the hell are they sorry for?” asks Jennifer Lister, mom of little Riley, who refers to her daughter’s condition as “Up syndrome.” “For not being blessed themselves with a child who has UP syndrome?”
3. What’s wrong with her face? — Nothing! She was born that way!
4. She doesn’t even look Downs — Kids with DS aren’t carbon copies of one another!
5. They don’t live very long, do they? — Actually, medicine and science have come a long way. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Although many children have physical and mental limitations, they can live independent and productive lives well into adulthood.”
6. I hate being told my daughter can grow up to be a Wal-Mart greeter.
7. What is going to happen to her when you die?
8. I hate hearing people telling me what they think he will and won’t be able to do in the future when he isn’t even a year old yet!
9. I find the Down syndrome stereotype ridiculous, that DS people are kind, loving, and gentle. Not my daughter. She is strong willed, defiant, and kind of a brat. Oh, and her teachers have called her manipulative from a very early age. Although I love her just the same!
10. I had someone ask me if I was going to have my son fixed so he wouldn’t have kids.
11. When my child was in Newborn Care, another mother told me I was really lucky because Down syndrome babies are so placid. I am lucky, but not for that reason!
12. Did you consider abortion?
13. One doctor asked us if we wanted our daughter to have plastic surgery on her face.