A couple of months ago, there was an article about Down syndrome in the Sunday edition of the Boston Globe Magazine. The article was primarily about the choices families are faced with as a result of prenatal testing. Two families in the article received prenatal Down syndrome diagnoses - one family had their baby and the other aborted. Since reading this article, I haven't been able to get this one sentence out of my mind: "Women and their partners use (prenatal) testing so that they can prepare to raise a child who will have profound medical, cognitive, and behavioral challenges, or so that they can end the pregnancy." I re-read that sentence several times and became more upset each time I read it. Profound medical, cognitive and behavioral challenges???? There are so many things wrong with this statement. The only part that is accurate is that of cognitive challenges.....yes, all children with Down syndrome will have some degree of intellectual impairment. Otherwise, there is nothing that ALL people with Down syndrome will have. Some will have health challenges, some will not. Some will have behavioral challenges, some will not.
While I was reading this article, I thought about the thousands of people without any personal knowledge of Down syndrome who, after reading this article, would define people with Down syndrome as having "profound medical, cognitive and behavioral challenges." What is also disturbing is that the Doctor who wrote this article is an Obstetrician....an Obstetrician who works specifically with "complex pregnancies including those with Down syndrome." He says he tries "to be informative, supportive, and non-directive" with his patients as they make their decision whether to continue or terminate their pregnancies. Based on this article, I find that impossible to believe. Indeed, there is much work to be done to educate people, especially those in the medical profession, on the facts about Down syndrome.
Beverly Beckham, grandmother extraordinaire, describes her reaction to the article here and echoes my thoughts and feelings completely.