The following guidelines are offered
as suggestions recognizing that
spoken and written words often
convey more than their intended
meaning. Choosing words carefully
can meaningfully enhance the intended
communication and help to avoid
correct name of this diagnosis
is Down syndrome. There is no apostrophe
(Down). The "s" in syndrome
is NOT capitalized (syndrome).
An individual with Down syndrome
is an individual first and foremost.
The emphasis should be on the person,
not the disability. Down syndrome
is just one of the many words that
can be used to describe a person.
Do NOT say, "That child is a
Downs" or "she's a Down's
baby." A child with Down syndrome,
an adult with Down syndrome, or
a person with Down syndrome is
a more appropriate way to discuss
a person with this condition.
Words can create barriers. Try
to recognize that a child is "a
child with Down syndrome" or
that an adult is "an adult with
Down syndrome." Children with
Down syndrome grow into adults with
Down syndrome; they do not remain "eternal
children." Adults enjoy activities
and companionship with other adults.
Encourage people to use person-first
language, i.e., "The person
with Down syndrome" NOT "The
Down syndrome person!" Identify
individuals with Down syndrome
as an individual, a friend, a student,
or a family member.
It is important to use the correct
terminology. A person with
Down syndrome is NOT "a Downs."
Each person has his/her own unique
strengths, capabilities and talents.
Try not to use the clichés that
are so common when describing an
individual with Down syndrome.
To assume all people have the same
characteristics or abilities is
degrading. Also, it reinforces
the stereotype that "all
kids with Down syndrome are the
Most important, look at the person
as an individual - your child,
your family member, your student,
your friend. Proudly acknowledge
their individuality and their accomplishments.
Remember, persons with Down syndrome
are more alike us than different.
They have feelings too. They want
to be included.