Thirty years ago, professionals routinely urged parents to institutionalize their children born with Down syndrome. Common knowledge told a story of lethargic, unteachable and unworthy children. They were classified and stigmatized, devalued and isolated.
We now know how badly those early perceptions missed the mark. As parents began to understand Down syndrome and how to manage the medical and developmental issues children with Down syndrome faced, they saw their children learning, thriving and enjoying life at levels previously thought impossible. Now, children with Down syndrome are going to school and learning, making friends and belonging, developing their own passions and excelling. Their full and satisfying lives fly in the face of old negative stereotypes.
Unfortunately, those stereotypes still prevail for many outside the special needs community. Many people who have not had the opportunity to teach, know or love a child with Down syndrome see only the disability. The defect. The label. There is so much more to any child than a label. Like all children, children with Down syndrome have different strengths and abilities.Like all children, children with Down syndrome have challenges and weaknesses.Like all children, children with Down syndrome deserve to be welcomed, supported and embraced by their community.
Like all children, children with Down syndrome deserve to be valued. Thank you for joining us to support our efforts to educate others about the positive, changing face of Down syndrome. It will take time, effort and program development to change the outdated views of society at large. We can reach our goals, but only with help from people like you.
William and Dana Halle