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How My Daughter Would Respond to People Who Call Her a ‘Downs Child’

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October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. One of things the Down syndrome community strives for in our goal for awareness is using person-first language. In short, it means the person comes before the disability in a description.

I’ve had people refer to my daughter, Tessa, as a “Downs child” or that “Down syndrome girl,” instead of referring to her as a child with Down syndrome. When people say “Downs child,” we feel that automatically defines her. When in reality, her extra chromosome is a small part of the bigger picture. 

By encouraging others to use people-first language, it’s my sincere hope we can look past a diagnosis and recognize people for who they are — people with names, hobbies, talents and feelings like my daughter.

My name is Tessa.


I was born with Down syndrome. I am not Down syndrome. I am not identified by my extra chromosome.

My name is Tessa. I am not a “Downs kid” or “that Down syndrome girl.” I am a person…with one big beating heart.


My name is Tessa. I have feelings and emotions just like you. I am expressive. I have good days and I have bad days. Sound familiar?

My name is Tessa. I am complex and beautiful. I am simple and sweet. I am way more than you think you know.


My name is Tessa. I am not special because of my chromosomes. I am not a mistake. I was perfectly created to be me.

My name is Tessa. I am smart. I am funny. I am capable. I am not suffering. I am strong.


My name is Tessa. I have family who loves me. I am accepted, not judged, by my friends.

My name is Tessa. I am not a punching bag for the narrow-minded. I am a positive influence in this world. I have a lot to offer.


My name is Tessa. And that is what I like to be called.

Follow this journey on Dear Tessa.

Originally published: October 23, 2015
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