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People With Down Syndrome Are Not the Punchline to Your Joke

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Have you noticed that whenever there are ableist anti-Special Olympics jokes, or pictures associated with the R-word, in these mean spirited jokes they often feature individuals with Down syndrome? While I am fortunate to not be in circles where special education jokes are rampant, the few times I run into ableist humor, people with Down syndrome are featured.

It’s not just people with Down syndrome, but autism and Tourette’s syndrome usually, but a good portion of mean-spirited memes target individuals with Down syndrome, making fun of their appearance, intelligence and motor skills.

I feel that in media individuals with Down syndrome are underrepresented, and while in modeling and a handful of shows there is some representation, we need to do much better as a society. We need to showcase that individuals with Down Syndrome can be successful, intelligent, strong, beautiful, talented, in charge leaders. Even though most media does portray individuals positively, there is a tendency for shows to stereotype all individuals with Down syndrome as being naive and innocent, not allowed to have a sexuality or be strong and fierce.

This trend has to be put to rest. People with Down Syndrome are different from each other. Stop labeling a group of individuals based on common stereotypes.

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Getty image by magda_istock

Originally published: August 21, 2019
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