Things Not to Say To a Caretaker of a Child With Down Syndrome
We have seen many adults saying inappropriate things to parents or caretakers of children with Down Syndrome.
World Down Syndrome Day is observed every year on March 21, with the aim to raise awareness about this genetic disorder to make our society more inclusive. However, often times, people are not only unaware about Down Syndrome but also are unaware of how to act around a caretaker of a child, teenager or an adult with Down Syndrome.
We have seen many adults saying inappropriate things to parents or caretakers of children with Down Syndrome. In order to avoid making a caretaker uncomfortable, we asked Sehrish Rashid, a mother of seven-year-old Zenith, five things she would want people to know about Down Syndrome. Here is what she has to say:
Kids with Down Syndrome are not ‘suffering’
Many people use the term ‘suffering’ for kids with down syndrome. Down syndrome is not a disease, it’s a life-long condition. It’s a chromosomal disorder. It alters the way of living but doesn’t make the person suffer.
Kids with Down Syndrome are not always ‘happy’
Many people tell me that my daughter is such a happy child, which is true to a great extent but it’s not who Zenith is all the time. Kids with down syndrome have all the regular emotions like any other child and they feel and express them as they experience. They have their good and bad days and all of them are valid.
Never underestimate the abilities of kids with Down Syndrome
Kids with down syndrome are just different, not better or worse than all the other kids. They have their own delays, and their own abilities that they learn and show at their own pace. They reach their milestones at different times and that’s okay. We need to stop comparing kids like they are trophies.
You can’t pray ‘Down Syndrome’ away
A huge thing that I had to deal with, after my daughter was born and diagnosed with down syndrome, was the fact that people would come and ask me to pray that God makes Zenith’s condition go away. This is a basic lack of education.
Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder and is defined at the beginning of the fetal stage. It’s not a cold or fever that will go away by praying. Being a Muslim, I completely believe in the power of prayer and because of my faith only I’ve been able to come this far with Zenith, but our faith should never lead us away from logic and scientific evidence.
Don’t use the word ‘retard’
Personally, this is a major trigger for me, but even in general, we really need to take this term out of our vocabularies. Using it as a slur makes it even worse cause you directly demean someone/something by comparing it with differently-abled people. Differently-abled people are not inferior. We need to educate ourselves.
Or if you know little about a disorder, educate yourself first and simply just don’t say anything. You know as they say, if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.