A few months ago, CoorDown released a video called Not Special Needs for World Down Syndrome Day. It’s had over 300,000 views on YouTube, and has been shared all over social media. The video shows a young woman talking about how people with Down Syndrome don’t need to eat dinosaur eggs, wear suits of armor, or get massages from cats, so that means they don’t have special needs. While I appreciate the statement this video is trying to make, and did “like” it when it popped up on my news feed, I disagree with the premise.
People with Down Syndrome do have special needs. I know this may not be a popular opinion, but it’s a cold, hard fact that can’t be ignored.
There are things I will have to do for my daughter that I will not have to do with my typical son. Instead of trying to make it seem like people with Down Syndrome are like everyone else, can’t we focus on doing away with the stigma surrounding the term “special needs,” and embrace the fact that people with special needs are unique?
There is nothing wrong with having special needs, and you don’t have to have a genetic condition to have them. People of all different abilities and health statuses have special needs. In a society where we are trying to embrace people’s differences, why can’t we just embrace the fact that people with Down Syndrome are different? We don’t need to try and convince society they are exactly like everyone else to promote their acceptance. They should be accepted the way they truly are, special needs and all.
By trying to overlook the very glaring fact that people with Down Syndrome have special needs, aren’t we playing right into the mindset that everyone must be uniform and perfect? Are we not trying to get those with Down Syndrome to conform to what society thinks they should be? By downplaying their special needs, aren’t we actually saying special needs are a bad thing?
The fact is, we need to embrace people’s differences and be able to see strengths in everyone. It’s cliche, but God doesn’t make mistakes. Yes, we live in a fallen world where genetic abnormalities are a reality, but God’s hands still crafted that precious baby inside the womb (Psalm 139:13). God still has a plan for that person with Down Syndrome (Proverbs 16:9).
Their special needs do not make them lesser people. That is the message we need to send society about Down Syndrome.
We need to teach everyone to embrace their special needs along with us. We need to be honest and factual when representing what it is like to have a child, brother, sister, or friend with Down Syndrome. By sugar coating and glossing over the reality of Down Syndrome, we aren’t doing anyone justice, and we aren’t giving everyone the opportunity to see how special people with Down Syndrome actually are. Instead of saying #NotSpecialNeeds, why not say #ProudtobeSpecial, or #DownSyndromeIsUnique? Let’s stop downplaying the differences people with Down Syndrome have, and start treating them as something to be embraced and celebrated, just like everyone else’s differences.