Childhood Letter of Introduction

Thank you for visiting this section of our website. The information provided in this section will likely provide you with up-to-date facts about Down syndrome. We are fortunate to have an organization right here in the Capital District that provides information and support to parents, professionals and individuals who seek information on issues about Down syndrome.

The Down Syndrome Aim High Resource Center (DSAHRC) is a not-for-profit organization with a Board of Directors, a professional staff, and families and professionals committed to increasing opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome. The purpose of DSAHRC is to enlighten and encourage the broader community to recognize the individuality, uniqueness, and capabilities of individuals with Down syndrome, and to reflect the hopes and dreams of those individuals and their families.

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Tuesday, 20 December 2011 18:44

Language Guidelines

The correct name of this diagnosis is Down syndrome. There is no apostrophe (Down). The “s” in syndrome is NOT capitalized (syndrome).
  • An individual with Down syndrome is an individual first and foremost. The emphasis should be on the person, not the disability. Down syndrome is just one of the many words that can be used to describe a person. Do NOT say, “That child is a Downs”. A child with Down syndrome, an adult with Down syndrome, or a person with Down syndrome is a more appropriate way to discuss a person with this condition.
Words can create barriers. Try to recognize that a child is “a child with Down syndrome” or that an adult is “an adult with Down syndrome”. Children with Down syndrome grow into adults with Down syndrome; they do not remain “eternal children”. Adults enjoy activities and companionship with other adults.
  • Encourage people to use person-first language, i.e. “The person with Down syndrome”, NOT “The Down syndrome person”! Identify individuals with Down syndrome as an individual, a friend, a student, or a family member.
    It is important to use the correct terminology. A person has mental retardation, rather than “suffers from”, “is a victim of”, “is diseased with”, or “is afflicted by”. A person with Down syndrome is NOT “a Downs”.
  • Ask yourself if using the words “poor”, “pitiful”, or “unfortunate” when referring to an individual with Down syndrome is in his/her best interest.
  • Each person has his/her own unique strengths, capabilities and talents. Try not to use the clichés that are so common when describing an individual with Down syndrome. To assume all people have the same characteristics or abilities is degrading. Also, it reinforces the stereotype that “all kids with Down syndrome are the same”.
  • Most important, look at the person as an individual—your child, your family member, your student, your friend. Proudly acknowledge their individuality and their accomplishment. Remember, persons with Down syndrome are more alike us than different. They have feelings too and are hurt by cruelty, stares and name-calling. They want to be included in your groups, not excluded.
Adapted from the Down Syndrome Society of Rhode Island Language Guidelines

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