This is a letter from my book 'Removing the Fear of Raising a Child with Down Syndrome - Waising Miss Chloe' .Sadly, it is more relevant today than it was 4 years ago, with the advent of the Down Syndrome blood test imminent in Australia.
Please don't allow Australia, to go the way of Iceland and eliminate a group of people because..well no-one really knows why they have to be eliminated.
Open letter to Doctors and Obstetricians.
My name is Sue Dymond and I have a young adult daughter who has Down Syndrome.
Fortunately for me, her and all who know her, I was too young to have the amniocentesis when I was pregnant. I say fortunately, because when my baby had tested positive to Down Syndrome, I would have terminated the pregnancy. I wanted nothing to do with a disabled child and all the hard work I imagined went with that job.
If this had happened, I would have missed out on knowing one of the most pleasant, self-assured, calm and confident young women I have ever met.
I find it very, very sad in the 21st century that there is still such a strong bias by the medical profession towards termination when Down Syndrome is detected prior to birth. It is very important that we are open-minded and give parents a balanced view of the positive and negative issues surrounding raising a child with Down syndrome.
NEVER ASSUME; not all parents want to terminate, and the reason many others do, is because it is painted as such a negative, unusually an incorrect outlook of theirs and their child’s life.
I can fully understand this attitude 30 or 40 years ago, but today, when there are so many young people in society with Down Syndrome proving to all around them that they are very capable of learning and being productive people in society. Admittedly they need some guidance and assistance, but I would love some one to tell me which child doesn’t?
An interesting statistic from an Australian survey conducted in Feburary 2013 by Sue Blandford, Down Syndrome Victoria, shows: 53.5% said their child's health had been mostly excellent since birth, my daughter is one of those statistics.
This is over half of all babies born with Down Syndrome being healthy, so why are we advised to terminate on a less than 50% chance of having an unhealthy baby?
Yes, I found the first ten – twelve years hard work, with running around to lots of experts and professionals and teaching her basics, boundaries and consequences. I have to say though, the past ten years she has been a delight (well mainly).
She does volunteer work with Meals on Wheels, she helps an organisation feed the poor every second Tuesday, she has a black-belt in Karate and is a helper teacher. Yes, she still needs guidance and I imagine always will need some, due to her inability to manage unforeseen circumstances.
I was recently told by a friend that I have everything a parent would ever ask for with Chloe. I have a child who loves me and enjoys my company and visa versa.
Our journey has had its challenges and will continue to, but isn’t that true of anyone who has children?
More than the challenges though, it has been rich with learning the important lessons in life – and some of those lessons are not true of anyone who has children. They are a gift to those who have a special needs person.
I ask the medical profession to please become more learned about what happens to people with Down Syndrome after they leave your care and then deliver the balanced information to parents who find out they are expecting a child with Down Syndrome.