I am writing this commentary in response to last Saturday’s article by Paul G. Kengor entitled “Taking Pride in Down Syndrome Children.”
I believe this story reminds us that all human beings were born with various degrees of gifts, abilities, and unique personalities, as well as challenges.
Some children, because of their cognitive and physical conditions, require extra assistance in the learning process. It is through family support and educational opportunities that today in American “civilized” society, these children are reaching their full potential and becoming respected members of our society.
In 1975, the passage of a federal law called PL 94142, or “Education for all Handicapped Act” set the stage for the successes we are seeing in the 21st century. The United States has invested a great deal of time, money, and training to ensure our special kids reach their goals. Citizens of the San Joaquin Valley do not have to travel far to witness our young Down Syndrome adults and their peers hard at work at restaurants, community centers, and retail stores.
Sadly, Mr. Kengor’s article also drew attention to terms used by other supposedly “civilized” societies when referring to disposing of babies with Down Syndrome. I propose that we keep words like erased, eradicate, and eliminate to describe the removal of unwanted pests, disease, and poverty ... not our precious children who have every right to be born.
Fast forward to October 2019, where we find the Kengor family visiting the Hershey Factory in Pennsylvania. They were greeted by a polite and happy young man with Down Syndrome, passing out candy bars. People took notice and sincerely thanked him. My guess is that at the end of the day, everyone went home happy and full of delicious chocolate ... and maybe ... just maybe ... this could be the dawning of the sequel of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as a young man with Down Syndrome plays the main character.
— Bonnie Mazzoni,
retired Special Educator,