Down Syndrome...Because Language Matters


When referring to someone that has Down syndrome, it is important to remember to use People First Language. It communicates that the person is more important than their diagnosis. It means that they are an individual outside of their diagnosis or genetic makeup. Nichole is not Down’s, she HAS Down syndrome. Down syndrome does not define who she is, and she is not the syndrome, she is just Nichole, she has Down syndrome, she has green eyes, and she has dark hair.

HERE you can find a guide of different ways to use people first language.

Here is what the National Down syndrome Society says about the preferred language for Down syndrome:

Down vs. Down’s - NDSS uses the preferred spelling, Down syndrome, rather than Down’s syndrome. While Down syndrome is listed in many dictionaries with both popular spellings (with or without an apostrophe s), the preferred usage in the United States is Down syndrome. This is because an “apostrophe s” connotes ownership or possession. Down syndrome is named for the English physician John Langdon Down, who characterized the condition, but did not have it. The AP Stylebook recommends using “Down syndrome,” as well.

• People with Down syndrome should always be referred to as people first. Instead of “a Down syndrome child,” it should be “a child with Down syndrome.” Also avoid “Down’s child” and describing the condition as “Down’s,” as in, “He has Down’s.”

• Down syndrome is a condition or a syndrome, not a disease.

• People “have” Down syndrome, they do not “suffer from” it and are not “afflicted by” it.

• While it is unfortunately clinically acceptable to say “mental retardation,” you should use the more socially acceptable “intellectual disability”. NDSS strongly condemns the use of the word "retarded" in any derogatory context. Using this word is hurtful and suggests that people with disabilities are not competent.