The smallest of things in my little world of Down syndrome have been bothering me lately. I’m not sure why I let it get to me because truly it’s just a matter of educating others in proper word usage when it comes to the special needs world.
So, today I thought it would be helpful to share some preferred language information from the folks at the National Down Syndrome Society.
- People “have” Down syndrome, they do not “suffer from” it and are not “afflicted by” it.
- Down syndrome is a condition or a syndrome, not a disease.
- Down vs. Down’s – NDSS uses the preferred spelling, Down syndrome, rather than Down’s syndrome. While Down syndrome is listed in many dictionaries with both popular spellings (with or without an apostrophe s), the preferred usage in the United States is Down syndrome. This is because an “apostrophe s” connotes ownership or possession.
- People with Down syndrome should always be referred to as people first. Instead of “a Down syndrome child,” it should be “a child with Down syndrome.” Also avoid “Down’s child” and describing the condition as “Down’s,” as in, “He has Down’s.”
That last one is a biggie for me. I don’t feel it’s my place to correct others when they reference it incorrectly, because honestly before Molly was born – I didn’t really know the “proper” way either. But wow, this one really drives me crazy.
No matter the disability – it’s so important for those around us to be referred to as people first.
I’m certainly no expert, but I’m a mom raising a child with Down syndrome.
What questions do you have about Down syndrome?