Many of you know that Tom and I are not easily offended. We use humor to get ourselves through tough situations and Tera's situation is no different. While we have never underestimated the seriousness of this in our lives for the rest of our lives, we do joke our way through the rough patches because it's how we deal. Therefore, I'd like to share the following information with this in mind: Tom and I do not expect people to walk on eggshells around us where DS is concerned. We do not want people to feel uncomfortable around us or Tera with the fear that they might say something wrong. However, there are other people in the DS community that more sensitive to terminology and since we hope many of you will now maybe take opportunities where you might not have before to interact with these very special people and their families, we do want you to be informed about what other people hope for and also to help you be as respectful as possible to individuals with DS. Many of these are things I myself never had any idea about before Tera entered our lives and so I assume many of you may not know them either. I'd like to share this with you so that you may be more informed and maybe help spread the word on what the "preferred" language is. And if you're ever wondering how we feel about anything, please don't ever hesitate to just ask us or email us if that's easier.
Below is the proper use of language for “Down syndrome”:
• Down vs. Down’s - NDSS uses the preferred spelling, Down syndrome, rather than Down’s syndrome. While Down syndrome is listed in many dictionaries with both popular spellings (with or without an apostrophe s), the preferred usage in the United States is Down syndrome. This is because an “apostrophe s” connotes ownership or possession. Down syndrome is named for the English physician John Langdon Down, who characterized the condition, but did not have it. The AP Stylebook recommends using “Down syndrome,” as well.
• People with Down syndrome should always be referred to as people first. Instead of “a Down syndrome child,” it should be “a child with Down syndrome.” Also avoid “Down’s child” and describing the condition as “Down’s,” as in, “He has Down’s.”
• Down syndrome is a condition or a syndrome, not a disease.
• People “have” Down syndrome, they do not “suffer from” it and are not “afflicted by” it.
• While it is unfortunately clinically acceptable to say “mental retardation,” you should use the more socially acceptable “intellectual disability”. NDSS strongly condemns the use of the word "retarded" in any derogatory context. Using this word is hurtful and suggests that people with disabilities are not competent.