‘Don’t call me “Down’s”‘

Emma Bishop is 40. She has a boyfriend, a job, loves reading, and is godmother to her niece Annabella. She also has Down’s syndrome. This Saturday (21 March) is World Down Syndrome Day, a chance to raise awareness, champion inclusion and celebrate the people with Down’s syndrome who play a vital role in our lives and communities. But, Emma says people with the condition are still subject to negative attitudes, discrimination, exclusion and stereotypes.

Here’s what Emma wants you to know:

  • Don’t say that I ‘suffer’ from Down’s syndrome or am a ‘victim’. I ‘have’ Down’s syndrome and I am certainly not a victim!

 

  • Don’t say that I am a ‘down’s’ woman or that ‘I am down’s’. I am a woman who ‘has’ Down’s syndrome. I am a unique individual and should be acknowledged as a PERSON first and foremost. Simple.

 

  • Plus… it’s ‘Down’s syndrome’, don’t be lazy and shorten it to ‘down’s’.

 

  • I have a learning disability. I am NOT a retard, mentally handicapped, backward or have a mental disability.

 

  • Down’s syndrome is a ‘condition’, not a disease or illness, so get it right!

 

  • People in the medical profession, please don’t talk about the ‘risk’ of having a baby with Down’s syndrome. It’s not a bad thing! Please talk about the ‘chance’ of having a baby with Down’s syndrome.

 

  • On that note, if you are meeting a new mother who has had a baby with Down’s syndrome, CONGRATULATE her on her new little one. Ask her all the questions you would do anyone – having Down’s syndrome does not define us!

 

  • And lastly, if you want to know something about me, ask ME! Don’t ask my parents or whoever may be with me at the time, look me in the eye and ask me directly… because I have a mind and a voice of my own!

World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated each year on 21 March and has been observed by the UN since 2012. This date (21st of the third month) was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down’s syndrome. Each year, people pose wearing mis-matched socks using the hashtag #LotsOfSocks because chromosomes look like socks and people with Down’s syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21.