Every 21st March marks World Down Syndrome Day, bringing awareness to everyone about people with Down Syndrome, or ‘SPECIAL’ people with ‘SPECIAL NEEDS’. Special? Where’d that come from? Yes, they may be different, but they still live among us in the same way that we do; they eat, sleep, breathe, walk, talk – just like us! Yet they are still being labelled differently from us. I personally disagree with labelling them special.
The world calls people with Down Syndrome, autism, or other syndromes ‘SPECIAL’ and they are said to have ‘SPECIAL NEEDS’. They think sugar-coating ‘disabled’ will lighten the effect, but from my humble point of view, it only hurts even more. For a start, being labelled differently means that they will only be separated from the crowd. It makes them feel alone and puts them on a different path from us in life. Do you realise that we are pushing them even further away from us? Since ‘special needs’ is just a polite term for something else, it may come across as sarcastic to people with Down Syndrome too! It also makes them feel more dependent because if they have ‘special NEEDS’, they would have to be treated specially by a specialist.
Why is this happening? They are just normal people! Sure, they may be different in how they act or look, but aren’t we all different? God made us in all different forms, shapes, sizes and colours, and while this is important to keep in mind, it is also important to remember that we are all from one human race! So even though you think you are ‘softening the blow’ by using a positive word like ‘special’, it only makes them feel different in a negative way! Try putting yourselves in their shoes! I know I wouldn’t want to be labelled ‘special’ the way they are! They want people to recognise their differences and understand their feelings, which I am sure is also true with the rest of us!
So what do we call them then? Why not try calling them by the name their parents gave them if you know them well, or if you don’t, respect the fact that they are humans as well, then recognise that they have Down Syndrome, autism or anything of the sort.
Let’s not label them ‘special’, but recognise their illness! This way, we can study them, recognise their needs, identify the assistance they require – and help them break through. Instead of putting all the responsibility on the parents, we should take it upon ourselves to play a role in helping them. Whether you’re a friend, neighbour, or simply a member of the community, you should help them every chance you get! Rather than making them fit into our world, why not we try to fit into their world? If we can understand them, this will help them to live among us and make it easier for all of us! Be it at school, in a workplace, or in public places, this awareness will help us blend into their world!
We also need to be aware that people with Down Syndrome are with us every day, therefore, we need to know of the vital importance of WDSD! This knowledge is key in understanding the diverse people of today’s world. So, please, oh please, keep in mind before you call somebody with Down Syndrome ‘special’, just think – maybe they aren’t so dependent! Maybe they could go on to do great things in the future! Maybe they could CHANGE THE WORLD!
“I see people with Down Syndrome more superior than me – after all, they do have extra chromosomes!”
– O. Mukhtar O. Mukhlis
p/s: I’m an 11-year-old writer, and this is my humble point of view.