There are a lot of misconceptions out there about Down syndrome, and the truth is that the majority of people with Down syndrome grow up to lead happy, fulfilling lives. In fact, in a survey of thousands of people with Down syndrome, 99% said that they were happy with their lives, and 97% said that they liked who they are. Compare that to the typical people you know.
Unfortunately, with the negative stereotypes about Down syndrome and the increase in prenatal testing for it, most people with Down syndrome will never get a chance. In the US the abortion rate is around 67%. In Europe it is over 90%.
When we got our prenatal diagnosis we were strongly pushed towards termination. While I am pro-choice, I am also appalled that government agencies consider these termination rates to be proof of success that they are "solving the problem" of Down syndrome.
Not solving the problem by providing funding for more research to treat some of the issues that the extra chromosome can cause. Not solving it by helping families with more access to early intervention or by encouraging more inclusion in classrooms. Not solving it by providing more education, training and employment opportunities for adults with Down syndrome, or any other type of assistance.
No, they are "solving the problem" by eliminating an entire population of people whose most recognizable trait is their honesty and ability to love unconditionally.
It is appalling. And it starts with identifying and eliminating children with disabilities, but where does it end? When we are able to prenatally identify other traits we perceive of as negative will we consider it "solving the problem" to get rid of them too?
Before I had Benny I didn't know anyone with an intellectual disability. I didn't have an awareness that people with special needs actually do have a place in our world.
The more that I learn about people with special needs, the more that I realize that I missed out when I was growing up. I missed out on the opportunity to be less selfish, to be a kinder, more thoughtful and more confident person. These are the qualities that people with special needs bring out in their classmates, friends and families.
I missed out because people with intellectual disabilities were put in institutions or taken out of the regular classroom and placed in special education classrooms.
It would be a tragedy if our entire society misses out because those people will never be born.
Don't miss out on the opportunity to get to know someone with special needs. It might just change your life.