The number tells the story. More than ninety percent of unborn children who are diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted. There is no better indicator of the “better dead than have downs” attitude that exists in our culture. But one man, columnist George Will, tells a different story. His son, Jon, turns 40 years old this week and Mr. Will is a powerful witness to the goodness and contributions that those with Down Syndrome can -and do – make to the world.
Will’s tribute to his son, Jon, also touches on something that unfortunately too often goes unmentioned in the disability dialogue – parents and families that share the gift of an individual with Down Syndrome feel happy and feel blessed. Dr. Brian Skotko, a geneticist at Children’s Hospital Boston, studied these families. His work was published last fall in the American Journal of Medical Genetics.
Skotko found that among siblings ages 12 and older, 97 percent expressed feelings of pride about their brother or sister with Down syndrome and 88 percent were convinced they were better people because of their sibling with Down syndrome. A third study evaluating how adults with Down syndrome felt about themselves reports 99 percent responded they were happy with their lives, 97 percent liked who they are, and 96 percent liked how they looked.
Take a minute and read George Will’s article. You’ll feel a little better about humanity.