Down Syndrome: Equality for All

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Those affected with Down syndrome face many problems in today’s society. Whether it is unfair judgment, discrimination, or misunderstandings, those with Down syndrome have been subjected to cruelty. However, over the years, there has been much progress towards acceptance and equality. Many people still do not understand Down syndrome, which is the main source of discrimination. Perhaps with more awareness in today’s society of what Down syndrome is and what those with Down syndrome can contribute to society, there will be a greater acceptance, understanding, and compassion sent out to those with this syndrome and their families. In order to promote an awareness regarding Down syndrome, this paper will serve as an explanation to what Down syndrome is, the problems those with Down syndrome face, and what is being done to prevent these issues.

The fact is Down syndrome is a condition where an extra chromosome, making forty-seven in total, causes the child to develop at a slower pace both mentally and physically. People with Down syndrome usually have a flattened face, skewed eyes, small ears, and an overhang of the tongue (The Nemours Foundation). Hypotonia is also another characteristic of children with Down syndrome, making them have low muscle tone (The Nemours Foundation). This condition delays the time it takes for children crawl, sit up, and walk. A large number of children born with Downs have a congenital heart defect and are at higher risk of developing pulmonary hypertension (The Nemours Foundation). Unfortunately, there is not a way to prevent the extra chromosome from affecting a child and it could be likely for any pregnant woman, especially those who are thirty-five and over. Scientists are still uncertain how Down syndrome occurs, making it unpreventable to an expecting mother.

John Langdon Down, a physician in 1856, first named the condition known as Down syndrome. Dr. Down called his patients “mongoloids” because he believed people with Down syndrome suffered from arrested ethnic development (Down Syndrome Fact and Fiction). While his patients were lined up one by one he said, “It is difficult to believe that the specimens compared are not children of the same parents” (Down Syndrome Fact and Fiction). After much studying, Dr. Down and his wife grew compassion for those with Down syndrome. The two opened up a private asylum to care for those with Downs (Down Syndrome Fact and Fiction). However, not all people were as sympathetic as Mr. and Mrs. Down.

Throughout history, people have had many misunderstandings in regards to those with Down syndrome. Due to this, there have been unfair and unjust judgments made towards those with this syndrome. From death to exile, those with physical and mental disabilities throughout history have been subject to this cruelty. In Sparta, those with physical and mental disabilities, who were ultimately proclaimed weak, were left to die in a pit alone. (Amos & Lang) In Nazi Germany, the physically and mentally handicap were killed on the spot to promote Hitler’s idea of a “perfect race” (University of South Florida). Of course today in America, these do not occur. However, many people have a misunderstanding about those with Down syndrome, which may include words such as retarded, unintelligent, and handicapped. Discrimination towards those with Down syndrome is evident in schools, jobs, and in the community. Many of those with Down syndrome want what most everyone wants, which is to be treated like everyone else.

Even through healthcare, people with Down syndrome are discriminated against. In order to gain free healthcare for having a medical condition, it can not be a preexisting one, like Down syndrome. This puts a financial burden on families and prompts those who do have Down syndrome to obtain healthcare through a job. Jobs are very difficult for those with Down syndrome to obtain. (National Down Syndrome Congress) Discrimination and false ideas hinder a major...
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