What To Say / Not Say

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We rely on the media to speak about issues relating to Down's syndrome in a way that is both factually accurate and inoffensive to the general public, including people with Down's syndrome and their families.

We are sure you share our concerns so please take a minute to check that your copy is in line with the following language guidelines and that you are not perpetuating any myths about the condition.

Don't Say
Do Say
Mongol person/baby/child with Down's syndrome
suffers from OR is a victim of Down's syndrome has Down's syndrome
a Down's baby/person/child a person/baby/child with Down's syndrome or who has Down's syndrome
retarded/mentally handicapped/backward learning disability
disease/illness/handicap condition OR genetic condition
the risk of a baby having Down's syndrome (in relation to pre-natal screening and probability assessments) the chance of a baby having Down's syndrome

Myths
Facts
People with Down's syndrome don't live very long. Today, people with Down's syndrome can look forward to a life of 60 years plus.
Only older mothers have babies with Down's syndrome. Although older mothers have a higher individual chance of having a baby with Down's syndrome, more are born to younger mothers, reflecting the higher birth rate in this group.
People with Down's syndrome cannot achieve normal life goals. With the right support, they can. The vast majority of people with Down's syndrome learn to walk and talk, and many are now attending mainstream schools, passing GCSEs and living full, semi-independent adult lives.
People with Down's syndrome all look the same. There are certain physical characteristics that can occur. People with Down's syndrome can have all of them or none. A person with Down's syndrome will always look more like his or her close family than someone else with the condition.
People with Down's syndrome are always happy and affectionate. We are all individuals and people with Down's syndrome are no different to anyone else in their character traits and varying moods.


For further information on Down's syndrome please contact our Press and Campaigns Officer on 0333 121 2300 (not premium rate)* or 0773 053 1504 (out of hours).

*Our new 0333 number is charged at national rate for both mobile and landline calls, unlike 0845 numbers which can be expensive from a mobile, your calls are included within your minute allowance with no premium.