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The 'Love Is Blind' Episode the Down Syndrome Community Is Talking About

A soul-crushing episode from season three of the Netflix show, “Love is Blind”  has surely ignited plenty of emotional conversations across families from within our Down syndrome community and hopefully outside our community too! Our family is still processing what was expressed on episode 6 from show participant Nancy. Our thoughts are spiraling.

We were intrigued when we read that the show, “Love is Blind,” was created with the intention for show contestants to fall in love, and so deeply in love that it would lead to a potential marriage proposal without ever having seen each other in person. Contestants converse through a wall, and fall in love with each-others personality and aren’t swayed whatsoever by physical appearances. This show concept was really appealing as the principles align magically with our family’s value system, love within, love is love, love the person because of their heart, their soul, not their looks.

Contributor's children hugging on a beach

Several shows into the series, we found ourselves cheering couples on as they were falling in love through conversation. Then along came the release of episode 6 where a show contestant Nancy, a career speech pathologist, shared her thoughts with viewers on aborting a child with a disability. She shared with viewers that she would lean towards aborting a child with a disability and specifically mentions Down syndrome. She shares that she has “firsthand” experience working with children with Down syndrome and how hard Down syndrome is on their families. She says the amount of trauma, health complications she would rather, “hope to try again” and “hope the second time is better” and that she would go that route to be honest, she even elaborates that the fathers seem to be “checked-out.”

Firstly to Nancy, and anyone that shares a similar view to Nancy, we have a son named Harvey with Down syndrome and this episode was another reminder (albeit not a friendly one) that people from the Down syndrome community continue to be marginalized and discriminated against with these types of disgraceful stereotypes. You chose to use the Netflix platform which caters to millions of viewers to share that your “firsthand” experiences dealing with families with Down syndrome equates to enough factual data to share with the world that families that have a child with Down syndrome encounter trauma and hardships.

People with “firsthand” experiences can never quantify a factual and informed opinion that should be shared with millions of viewers. This is called a stereotype. Have a conversation about your “firsthand” experiences in private, not on national television. Do not spread ignorance, do not spread misinformation, do not stereotype about individuals like our son! Period.

In fact, Health Day shared an article recently that stated, “Researchers found that in 87 percent of families they surveyed, everyone — parents and siblings — said they loved their family member who had Down syndrome, and almost as many families said they felt pride for the child.” This is a very common theme found from a multitude of surveys  which are all accessible online.

The lesson here is unless you have done the appropriate research, your personal judgments against the families you work with, and your “firsthand” experiences will never be enough to share your stereotypical views with millions of viewers. Do better and you should know better!

Secondly, Netflix, you should know that spreading stereotypical misinformation about a group of marginalized individuals is completely unacceptable. This scene in question absolutely should have never made it through edits, and we are floored it did. People within the Down syndrome community, like many other communities, continue to fight and advocate for awareness and change for our children do be valued. How this was considered acceptable to be shared with millions of viewers will remain a mystery.

Lastly, love is indeed blind for our family. We fell in love with our son Harvey while he was in utero, we found out he had Down syndrome when I was four months pregnant and our love for him never shifted, it never changed. I had no idea what he was going to look like, but I was connected to his soul, his heart, I could feel him move, and I knew that I was going to love him more than life itself for the rest of time and I would do whatever I could to end stereotypical language about him and his friends. I promised him I would advocate like a mama bear to share with the world that an extra chromosome does not devalue his existence. I would share with the world that he will never be a burden, some days are hard yes, but the magical light he has turned on within my soul will never dim. Ever. There is no perfect, we all create our own perfect and our lives are 100% better with Harvey as part of our family.

For us, Love is truly and authentically Blind,

Sarah Thompson

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