There are few children with Down Syndrome in my school today. There are less of them born because of abortion. That really seems like a shame to me. The children who have that extra chromosome going are some of my very favorite middle school-ers.
That isn't to say that when I was pregnant I didn't dread the possibility that I might have a child with problems. I am sure that I would have been in complete crisis if my son had been one of these special children. I didn't know them and I didn't understand. There wasn't much out there in the way of books or information. It seemed to me that a child with DS didn't have much hope back in those days. I didn't have a child with DS. I thought the nice things I read about DS were just ploys to try to make people feel better about there plight with their poor children.
Eventually I came to know more about DS and the characteristics of these children. Over the years at middle school as part of my job I get to do story time for the self-contained special ed classes. There are an assortment of issues among these special education kids. As I mentioned, only a very few have DS. All of them have a lower level of intelligence than one would need to function as a completely independent person in society someday. Some of the kids can make little response to my questions or conversation. Some of the kids can't follow simple directions or have much in the way of self control. But, I have come to notice over the years that the extra chromosome kids, while all different and varied in many ways, function at the top of this low functioning group.
The children who have the look of DS are mostly joy-filled. They want to help. They have memories and make plans. They ask for things and can insist. I have developed friendships with these kiddos and they have introduced me to their mothers and given me high fives. They have asked me to get certain library books and reminded me when I forgot to bring the cart of the lower level books out for their friends. And for the most part they smile.
The DS children have personalities and opinions. They are every bit real people who will live happy and productive lives. They look different. Their futures may be different than the typical students. But, they lead lives of worth and dignity. I am sorry that so few people know that.