The Way I See It!

I am an Ultra-Conservative, Alpha-Male, True Authentic Leader, Type "C" Personality, who is very active in my community; whether it is donating time, clothes or money for Project Concern or going to Common Council meetings and voicing my opinions. As a blogger, I intend to provide a different viewpoint "The way I see it!" on various world, national and local issues with a few helpful tips & tidbits sprinkled in.

Educating on Proper Writing of Down syndrome

Down syndrome, Email, Info, Culture

So some of you might have seen fellow blogger Kevin Fech sternly take issue with two times in a blog mainly to discuss Sarah Palin where I improperly wrote unknowingly (ignorantly) and without malice the improper way to write Down syndrome and describe people with that diagnosis.  An ignorant excusable mistake so I thought!


I did correct the way I stated the two incorrect statements, however many more questions remained and some information I was presented with was confusing and not clear.  I would have thought he would do a better job educating people on it and found it odd that he had not already did a blog post on the proper way to write and explain Down syndrome.


Kevin provided me with a link and told me to look at it.  Looking at it still left questions and I was still confused on issues and on what may or may not be offensive.


So I decided to contact the person that runs the website Kevin provided, Nina Fuller.  So here is my email and the email response from Nina Fuller.  I always want to provide the most accurate information and always am willing to learn new things and adapt things or correct things that are wrong.  I have always stated I am a big enough person to say when I was wrong, not so quite right, misinformed, or unknowingly state something wrong.


I personally think someone who unknowingly (ignorantly) does something, they get a free pass if they are willing to correct it and learn from it, but some people are not so understanding and are judgmental.  That is not how I am.


So here is my email and the response.



Subject: Looking to educate myself


Nina Fuller,


I have noticed while doing research on the proper way to write Down syndrome that outside the U.S. including Canada and Mexico they use Down’s syndrome instead including medical journals and self-help/support books and sites.


I have recently been educated in that the wording of Down’s baby or Down’s child are offensive as it puts the disability first instead of the person and have corrected my ignorance to that.


I was told that stating Down’s syndrome, Down Syndrome and Down’s Syndrome is also offensive.  I was told that the apostrophe s and capitalizing the s in syndrome is offensive.  I understand they are not the proper way of stating it and looking to find out if they are offensive.


If it is, is this widely known and accepted?


I also see in the Oxford Dictionary under the word Mongol (which I know was how they referenced Down syndrome in the 60’s and 70’s) is offensive, yet they refer to Down syndrome as Down’s syndrome.


One other thing, if the apostrophe s is offensive would it not also for turner's syndrome or klinefelter's syndrome and if capitalizing the s in syndrome is, would it not be offensive when it is in the name of something like Down Syndrome International or World Down Syndrome Day?  Is that not disrespectful?  Would they not lead by example and make the s lower case?


I would like to be informed, educated and remove myself of ignorance on these issues and hope you can answer my questions so I may understand things better.


Thank you for your time,


Randy Hollenbeck



Dear Randy,


Thank you for inquiring about the proper presentation of writing about Down syndrome.  I hope the following link will help you better understand "People First Language."  The entire philosophy is about recognizing each person as a person before acknowledging any specific diagnosis or characteristic.


The other elements of correct written presentation are simply a matter of correct grammar and punctuation.  The only time both the words "down" and "syndrome" are capitalized would be when both words are used in the title of an organization which is grammatically correct. 


For example:  The Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati has recently launched a national adoption network.  Both "Down" and Syndrome" are capitalized because they are important words in the organization's proper title.


Here is an example of the best practice of using the words together in a general sentence:


For example:  The sentence "The clever boy with Down syndrome" amazed his teacher. 

The word "Down is capitalized because it represents the name of the doctor (Jerome LeGuene) who discovered the extra chromosome in the twenty-first pair of chromosomes, which has become known as Down syndrome.  It is also termed "Tri-somy 21" for its attachment to the twenty-first set.


I hope this information helps you as you continue to educate yourself in using the acceptable (American) guidelines for People First Language.  More importantly, I appreciate your desire to learn more about Down syndrome and the wonderful human beings who were born with an extra chromosome. 


By the way, Down syndrome is considered a "diagnosis" and never as a "disease" of which to be cured.  One cannot catch Down syndrome and each person with Down syndrome varies in their spectrum of symptoms associated with Tri-somy 21. 


Thank you, again, for your inquiry,

Nina Fuller

Founder/Executive Director

SMILE on Down Syndrome


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