On Down's Syndrome


July 24, 1991

From: Kathleen A. Plank


As the mother of an infant with Down's syndrome, I avidly read all articles about programs and projects that benefit developmentally disabled adults and children. Therefore, I appreciate the coverage your paper gave to the Elks project for Special Olympians in the (Anne Arundel County Sun, July 15, "All are winners at this camp").

I must, however, take issue with your writer's obvious lack of knowledge regarding DS. Down's syndrome is not an illness, as indicated in her fourth paragraph. Because of this erroneous public perception of the condition, many health insurers also consider Down's syndrome to be anillness and refuse to cover expenses for affected children. Childrenwith DS are frequently prone to certain illnesses, but the conditionitself is simply the presence of an extra chromosome. Because of theinsurance problems of many new parents of children with Down's syndrome, it is very important to combat the public impression that it is,in and of itself, an illness.

By publishing the article about thecamp on the front page, however, you have helped to combat another unfortunate public image -- that of the mentally retarded person as unattractive and almost unmoving, not becoming or wishing to become a contributing member of society.

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