Recent research indicates that individuals with Down syndrome can experience more happiness and potential for success than Mr. Dawkins seems to appreciate. There are, of course, many challenges facing families caring for children with Down syndrome, including a high likelihood that their children will face surgery in infancy and Alzheimer’s disease in adulthood. But at the same time, studies have suggested that families of these children show levels of well-being that are often greater than those of families with children with other developmental disabilities, and sometimes equivalent to those of families with nondisabled children. These effects are prevalent enough to have been coined the “Down syndrome advantage.”
I experienced that firsthand a few years ago, I was working with some children on a project, and selected someone for a plumb, but difficult role.
My choice surprised some other adults.
When questioned about it, I told a colleague about my hunch, the boy's unusual self-possession, my certainty that he was somehow wise and responsible and capable beyond his years, and could be utterly depended on.
I said he reminded me, in that, of a slightly older girl whom both knew.
"Funny you should mention her....."
I had not known that the boy, like the teen-age girl, had a developmentally disabled sibling, and that he, like the girl, was a better person for it, and their family happier, and dare I say? holier for it.