To the Person Who Typed 'I Don't Like People With Down Syndrome'
Once in a while I like to look at the search engine terms that bring people to my site. Some of them are so puzzling I dedicate blog posts to respond to those searches. Since it landed those people on my blog I might as well write about it.
Today’s term is, “I don’t like people with Down syndrome.”
I like people with Down syndrome. There is one particular little girl I love with a fierceness that runs deep and wide. She’s my daughter.
But, rather than responding with, “Well, I don’t like you!” I’m going to first extend some grace and say this is not really about liking or not liking people with Down syndrome, but more about understanding what Down syndrome is, or perhaps even making sense of a negative experience.
I have talked to enough people outside the Down syndrome community to know some have had negative experiences with people who have Down syndrome. I know some people with Down syndrome might display some scary or unexpected behaviors. If this is the reason why you don’t like people with Down syndrome, please consider this — one experience is not the defining factor for all people with Down syndrome.
Don’t let one negative interaction keep you from meeting people who you would really enjoy. Give them a chance. I think you will be surprised to discover there are some pretty enjoyable individuals who have Down syndrome.
And if you wonder what Down syndrome is, here is a quick explanation — people with Down syndrome have an extra 21st chromosome, meaning, Down syndrome is a genetic condition.
So let’s talk more about this because unfortunately the search term “I don’t like people with Down syndrome” is negative.
People with Down syndrome have feelings, so if you laugh at them or make fun of them because of their genetic condition, it hurts. It hurts their feelings, and it hurts their families. Nobody likes a bully. Meanness is not flattering to anyone.
Maybe you’re scared of something you don’t know. Often, we don’t like things we are scared of or not familiar with. So perhaps getting to know someone with Down syndrome would be a good idea.
People with Down syndrome are people, like you. They have unique talents, gifts, abilities and personalities. I’m sure you don’t like everyone you meet because you either click with someone or you don’t. So, no, I don’t expect anyone to like every single person with Down syndrome. Now, if you do not like people with Down syndrome because of their diagnosis, well, that says a lot more about you than about them. Unfortunately, it communicates these things about you:
1. You are self centered because you only like people like you.
2. You are intolerant because you don’t like people who are different from you.
3. It shows your ignorance. You don’t like people with Down syndrome because they have Down syndrome. Okay then, sounds like a valid and logical reason… oh wait, no, it doesn’t.
So don’t be a bully — don’t be self-centered, don’t be intolerant, don’t be ignorant. Those are not positive qualities. Be a friend. Everyone likes a friend, and Down syndrome is not a condition that prevents friendships from happening.
A version of this post originally appeared on Ellenstumbo.com.
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