March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day

The theme for this year’s World Down Syndrome Day is “With Us, Not For Us.” This simple message is the basic tenet for those with Down Syndrome and their supporters to move to a human rights-based approach to Down Syndrome and other disabilities. World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated on March 21st this year.

The Down Syndrome Institute (DSI) has agreed that the “charity” model of disability, where those with disabilities are treated as objects of pity needing to rely on others for support, is outdated. The DSI’s approach views people with disabilities as having the same rights as everybody and calls for their supporters to work with them, not for them.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities calls for the freedom to make our own choices regardless of disability. Oftentimes, those with Down Syndrome have “controlling” support where their supports do things for them, not with them, thus leaving them out of making any decisions. Unfortunately, the U.N. has found that many organizations exclude those with disabilities from taking part in their work, so decisions are made for them, not with them.

At Flatrock, we have many residents with Down Syndrome and other developmental disabilities. Let us remember as their supporters that it is not our job to make decisions for them but to work with them to make decisions that support their progress and well-being.