Shining A Light on Down Syndrome

This is a powerful opinion piece by Emily Mondschein, the proud mother of two boys, Samuel and Paul. Her youngest son, Paul, was born with Down syndrome.  She is also the Executive Director of Gigi’s Playhouse - Buffalo whose mission is to change the way the world views Down syndrome and to send a global message of acceptance for all.   We need more of these stories to beat stereotypes and see people as individuals.  Thank you, Emily, for sharing!

As this Down Syndrome Awareness month draws to a close, I want to shine a light on the 10%, the "severely impacted", the "low functioning", as they say, the faces of Down syndrome that are different from their peers. They are the misunderstood, underserved and under researched. They are the dual diagnoses that have been identified and have not been identified. They are not always the feel-good stories- the Corky from "Life goes On", the kid working at your local grocery store or doctor's office, or that person who lives independently or with a house of friends. They are the head scratchers, the ones that perplex us.

But to those of us on the inside we need to let the world know that they are so much more. They are hidden talent. They are ability that requires creativity and patience to tap into, but once uncovered, so much more profound and brighter than expected. They are unspoken love and fierce loyalty. Their strength to persevere in a world that looks past them and undermines them is beyond what their peers and those typically developing will ever understand. But that strength is otherworldly and a gift to those who can recognize and learn from it.

They are people with dreams and goals in life. They love and have deep emotions. They are not 20 with a mental age of a 1. They are their actual age with experiences and stories to tell that would leave you dumbfounded.

Throw away your IQ tests. They will never accurately measure the unique intelligence these individuals possess. Paper cannot properly represent what they hold. This month I encourage you to look into their eyes, meet them where they are at, have the patience to sit and listen and just "be" and what you discover will change you forever. Teachers, stretch and learn. Include them because the world needs to understand them and benefit from them. They should not be segregated and tucked away in special schools and classrooms. They will improve your craft and your teaching will be much more impactful on the classroom as a whole.

Employers, employ them. They will improve your business tenfold once properly supported and trained. They can bring unique and valuable skills to the table that are lacking among all of your employees.

Friends and family, take the time to say hello, sit beside them. Pay attention to what they are doing and join them. Step away from the normal confines of socialization and appreciate the uniqueness of the individual. They may not answer, and they may not reciprocate but they know you are there, and they will remember. And in time they will respond.

So, this Down Syndrome Awareness month, I encourage you to throw away terms such as "severity", "low functioning", and "mental age". Break down and recognize these judgmental biases. And stretch yourself. Open your mind and set aside your judgments. The 10% will surprise you and teach you lessons you could never imagine.

Contact Care Design NY

Please use our office lines during 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM (ET).


Emergency After Hours: 1-877-855-3673

The emergency after hours number will only be in operation after 5:00pm to 8:30am on business days, weekends, and Care Design NY holidaysPlease only use emergency number for urgent matters that cannot wait until the next business day. 

Contact Compliance

Visit the Compliance Program page for information about the Care Design NY Compliance Program and for contact information to be used by anyone to report a suspected violation of the code of conduct, compliance guidelines, operational policies, a law or regulation, or other concern to the compliance offices. 

Compliance Program

Contact Us
Care Design NY
Corporate Office

8 Southwoods Blvd
Suite 110
Albany, NY 12211

Care Design NY provides care coordination throughout New York State, New York City and Long Island. View regional coverage areas.

Primary Numbers
  • Main Corporate Office
    General Inquiries
  • After Hour Emergencies
    (5:00pm - 8:30am & Weekends)
Who to Contact
Care Design NY BBB Business Review

Copyright © Care Design NY. All rights reserved. 
Website designed by Flight Creative Group.