Challenging some Myths and Stereotypes around Down’s Syndrome
After having my daughter Ellie I was suddenly surrounded by a lot of outdated facts, myths and stereotypes of Down’s Syndrome; some made me laugh and many I chose to ignore.
However 10 years later I have chosen to challenge those myths. First, let share my thoughts as a parent and to offer some education.
Please note everything written here is just my opinion, however many myths have been contributed by other parents.
So let’s begin with the most popular one; all people with Down’s Syndrome are always happy and loving. All I can say here folks is ask a parent! All our children have every emotion just like yours, they are angry, frustrated, cry, have tantrums and can be very annoying (sound familiar?)
Another stereotype that may have come from the medical profession or just an outdated view was when another mum was informed that her child would not come to much. Seriously??? Have you seen the actors, the dancers, the pianists, and not forgetting the legend Sarah Gordy who received a MBE in 2018. Ellie is currently in mainstream primary, can read, do mental maths, spell, and goes to drama with her friends. She has achieved her 100m swimming certificate and recently went on her first field trip with school, without us.
One myth I admit to worrying about when Ellie was born, was what would happen to her as she got older. Yes our children are no longer taken to care homes to be looked after but would she live with us forever. It’s been a lovely surprise to see so many young adults including the awesome Heidi who moved out at 20 to live the life she wants, here’s a link to her page.
Another common myth about babies with Down’s Syndrome is they simply cannot breastfeed. I admittedly tried only once with Ellie and didn’t pursue it but other mum’s have had no problems showing every child, as we should accept, is unique.
Age; the common stereotype that only older females have children with Down’s Syndrome. I personally was only 34 (I don’t consider that old, do you?) and statistics show there are more females under the age of 35 than older that have children with Down’s Syndrome. Down’s Syndrome is a chromosome abnormality and therefore has little to do with age.
Children with Down’s Syndrome stay babies for longer, have you heard this – many parents might feel like this when given the diagnosis due to stereotypes, but again ask a parent if you want the truth. I feel Ellie turned into a teenager when she was 7 with all the same fun attributes of moodiness, stubbornness and emotions that you would expect from those teenage years. Others have said the same. Many parents teach their children age appropriate behaviour to try to dispel this myth.
All people with Down’s Syndrome look the same. Yes many children have similar facial features (slanted eyes, small nose), a smaller stature and may need support with their gross, motor and oral skills; however each child is unique and will have similarities to their parents and siblings just as much.
So there you have it, some very common myths and stereotypes of Down’s Syndrome challenged. My last thought on this matter is terminology; a person is a person not a Down’s Syndrome person or a Down’s; a better way of saying something that is similar is ‘Here is Ellie, she has Down’s Syndrome’ – person first.
Thank you for reading and as always if you would like to connect, connect with me here.
Do you think I’ve missed one out, comment below? Until next time,