Looking Towards the Future: Employment for People with Down Syndrome

Looking Towards the Future: Employment for People with Down Syndrome

Three years ago I began my undergraduate career at a university uncertain about what I wanted to study. My family chastised my indecisiveness and would frequently question me regarding my major and job prospects. A child’s development is a crucial concern for parents. Questions flow through their mind constantly. Will my child be healthy? Will they be happy in the future? Am I doing enough to support them? How are they going to turn out? This can be inherently stressful for parents who have children with down syndrome.

People with down syndrome may possess a number of health complications including heart and gastrointestinal defects, immune disorders, sleep apnea, and obesity. Along with the physical difficulties, those with down syndrome moderate cognitive impairment, language difficulties, and memory issues. In a 2016 survey conducted with 511 adults with down syndrome, it was found that along with high unemployment, a large number of people with down syndrome were limited to working in food, janitorial, landscaping, and office sectors of work (Kumin and Schoenbrodt, 2016).

However, despite the challenges that those with down syndrome face, employment and success are not unattainable. A mother from the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential spoke about her daughter Mila, who has down syndrome. The first few weeks following Mila’s birth was filled with emotional turmoil; doctors diagnosed her with a congenital heart defect. Her mother immediately addressed issues with Mila’s physical and mental development including, treatment for her heart condition, enrolling her in reading programs, exercising with her, and teaching her foreign languages. Despite being five, she is now able to read at the level of an eight-year-old. There are also instances where people with down syndrome who strive on to become business owners, politicians, or entrepreneurs. In January of 2018, a story was done by BBC regarding John Cronin, an entrepreneur possessing down syndrome. Cronin began a business selling socks with a portion of the proceeds going to charities that support those with disabilities.

The future can be daunting for any parent, child, or adult. It is important that we acknowledge that those possessing down syndrome are capable of living fulfilling and enriching lives, despite the physical and mental complications they possess. As Mark Cronin, father of John Cronin stated “, When I talk to employers I tell them it is absolutely imperative that they hire people with disabilities. Not because it’s the right thing to do, not because they’re nice guys, but because everybody is looking for good workers. This is a vast, untapped pool of great workers.”


The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential. (2017, March 7). Down Syndrome Success Story: Mila.  https://www.iahp.org/down-syndrome-success-story-mila/

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Down syndrome. (2018, February 01).https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/down-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20355977

Cheetham, J. (2018, January 13). The million dollar sock entrepreneur with Down’s syndrome. http://www.bbc.com/news/business-42353259

Kumin, L., & Schoenbrodt, L. (2016). Employment in Adults with Down Syndrome in the United States: Results from a National Survey. Journal Of Applied Research In Intellectual Disabilities, (4), 330. doi:10.1111/jar.12182

Allison Chan

My interest in the social sciences emerged during high school when I began taking college level classes that introduced me to research writing. I felt that the opportunity helped me become more conscious of the information I would take in during my daily life. Through being a part of the Humanology Project, I hope to bring more awareness towards mental illnesses. Although I am undecided, I have developed an interest in sociology. My courses have taught me the importance of looking at issues from a different and more larger perspective. I feel that developing this perspective is a part of ending stigma and misconceptions about mental illness. During my free time I like to binge watch Everybody Loves Raymond, volunteer, and enjoy dramatic cooking shows

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