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Syndrome Syndrome

Posted Aug 26 2008 4:33pm
When you have a child with Down syndrome, chances are you experience a strange brand of prejudice and stereotyping right from the very start. I call it Syndrome syndrome.

The grave doctor informed me while I was on the delivery table that he suspected my son had a "chromosomal abnormality", probably Down syndrome. From that point on, in the medical professional's eyes, my tiny son joined a unique club. Since he was a member of this exclusive club, they already "knew" many things about him. They "knew" he would have low muscle tone, developmental delays, and most likely a multitude of medical issues, both present and future.

The geneticist "knew" that he wouldn't live with us all of his life and that he would ride the bus some day. The social worker "knew" that he would not know or care that he had mental retardation. The physical therapist "knew" that he needed lots of intervention so that he wouldn't "walk like a duck" as an adult.

Later, the educators got on board too. They "knew" he would need to be in a self-contained special education classroom in order to learn anything. After all, he would get more attention there, and kids "like him" benefit from individual attention. They "knew" he would need to learn how to be "compliant" or there was no hope for his future.

Having a child with a syndrome as common as Down syndrome means that right from the start a parent must recognize their child and family's uniqueness and individuality and counteract prejudice and stereotyping wherever and whenever they find it.
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