Are Kids With Down Syndrome Stupid?
I say unequivocally NO!
But then again, I’m biased because I get to witness my son overcome one challenge after another. His genius may be hidden from a world who likes to categorize people based on ridiculous notions of color, sex, race, ability, and social status but I can see it. To me, the problem lies with society and its determination of what’s “normal,” when in fact, there is no such thing as normal.
These are the people who heard us into schools and sort out the “good” ones from the “bad” ones based on standardized testing and a grading system based on their determination of what is and isn’t true.
But how can they explain the D or F student, who goes out and starts a business and becomes a millionaire while the student with straight A’s and a 4.0 GPA in college works from paycheck to paycheck?
Normal is what we decide it is, not them. And every kid has abilities to achieve something amazing. Someone just has to believe in them, but don’t ask society to do it because they won’t, they’ll just label them.
And there are plenty of labels that would suggest that kids with Down Syndrome are stupid. Deep down is there really a difference in the label mentally retarded, mentally challenged or intellectually disabled? If there is, I don’t see it.
And of course, today they are most commonly referred to as ‘developmentally delayed’ which is nothing more than a much more palatable way of saying my son is retarded. Which I should add that the definition the “R” word is “slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development,” so again I ask what the difference is? (See Meriam)
If someone called my son ‘slow’ I’d likely be as offended as some jackoff calling him ‘retarded’ because they’re maligning my son’s abilities without knowing what they are.
Labeling my son with any of these deprecatory terms only serves to expose the ignorance of the person using them. For example, calling someone dumb because they can’t speak proves the ignorance of that person because the man considered to be the smartest man in the world Stephen Hawking, can’t speak or walk for that matter. Is he challenged… YES, is he incapable… NO!
The same is true for kids with Down Syndrome, they’re challenged with more than their fair share of life obstacles, but they are far from incapable. I think the problem stems from the lack of communication more than anything else. If you can’t communicate with them, how can you determine their abilities?
If you were in a foreign country and didn’t speak the language and needed a seamstress, you might find it difficult to get one. But once you find a way to communicate your desires finding one is very easy.
How is it any different? Kids with Down Syndrome have a different language at first. As a matter of fact, John-Michael learned sign language at 2 years old by watching Signing Time videos. He was so good at it, we found it hard to understand him but not because he wasn’t smart enough to communicate, because we weren’t. How could someone, others consider “intellectually delayed,” be capable of sign language without formal training?
Does John-Michael struggle with audible speech? YES, but that’s not an insurmountable challenge. He struggles more because his tongue is larger than most, more than he can’t learn audible language. He’s starting to adapt his language to his tongue and is talking in full sentences now. Oh and how he loves to sing! He has overcome many of his speech challenges through singing. It’s truly amazing to watch.
And now he can spell his own name… and let’s be honest, we didn’t give him an easy name to spell. His name is JOHN-MICHAEL.
It is my opinion that many of us in the Down Syndrome community are wasting our time trying to change society through banning words or calling out ignorant internet trolls who have no sense of overcoming a challenge because they’ve never had to.
Instead, may I suggest that we put our energies to more productive goals like believing in our kids, pushing them to believe in themselves and helping them overcome their challenges all while preparing them for a world that looks down on them.
As they achieve more spectacular things, their stories will influence society over time, and we can rest in the idea that their future is getting brighter and brighter!