Delving into Down syndrome


Sparking controversy across social media, Richard Dawkins—probably quite

unintentionally—created a newfound awareness of individuals diagnosed with Down

syndrome. When a woman reached out to Dawkins, asking what she should do if she was

expecting a child with Down syndrome, Dawkins stated, “Abort it and try again. It would be

immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice” (Edgin, 2014). The social media

outcry against Dawkins was profound, and the global awareness of Down syndrome increased

manifold. Although there is more awareness, many people are still unfamiliar with the disorder

because they do not personally know anyone afflicted. Dawkins’ simplistic answer, and the

controversy that followed begs the question: who exactly is affected by Down syndrome, and is

an individual’s ability to be successful really diminished by this diagnosis?

220,000 babies are born with Down syndrome each year and there are over 1.6 million

children living with Down syndrome worldwide (Dseinternational, 2014). With improved

medical care, people who have Down syndrome are now living much longer than before and

accomplishing much more than ever before. Although it is unfortunate, the stigma against

Down syndrome is still very much alive, and those who suffer from Down syndrome constantly

have to live with the stereotypes and negative societal perceptions associated with their

disorder.

More of Tazia’s work can be viewed on her blog: http://tazpaintings.wordpress.com/

More of Tazia’s work can be viewed on her blog: http://tazpaintings.wordpress.com/

The above painting was created by the artist Tazia Fowley, aged 43. Tazia holds the

honor of having this painting displayed in the home of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Tazia also has Down syndrome (Goldberg, 2013). It is necessary to work together towards the

destigmatization of Down syndrome because individuals should not be confined to the societal

shackles given to them because of their disorder. Dawkins’ perspective that babies should be

aborted for the sole reason that they have been diagnosed with Down syndrome, is unfair

as it defines the child by their diagnosis. Tazia and others afflicted with Down syndrome can

definitely attest to the fact that Down syndrome does not define them. What defines them is

their ability to move forward despite their setbacks, and their astonishing accomplishments as a

result.

References:

About Down syndrome. (2014). Retrieved from: http://www.dseinternational.org/en-us/about-
down-syndrome/.

Edgin, J., & Fernandez, F. (2014). The Truth About Down Syndrome. The New

York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/29/

opinion/the-truth-about-down-syndrome.html?

_r=0&module=ArrowsNav&contentCollection=Opinion&action=keypress&region=FixedL

eft&pgtype=article

Goldberg, E. (2013). Will And Kate Fight Stigma Against Down Syndrome In Beautiful Way. The

Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/12/will-kate-
painting-gift_n_3915196.html

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