Marlowe's Shade

Thursday, February 23, 2006

DS Kids

The Forced Abortion thread on Discarded Lies yesterday had me thinking about handicapped children. I've read that prenatal testing for Down's Syndrome can now be done in the first trimester, and I've seen figures as high as 90% for the detected Down's Syndrome pregnancies that are aborted.

All the kids I went to school with were pre-Roe vs Wade, and it was a pretty solid Catholic area at the time. We had of course a "special class". I probably was aquainted with approximately 2 dozen kids with Down's or similar disabilities.

No one was politically correct in those days so the epithet "retard" was probably only second in popularity to "faggot". And there were the "short bus" jokes as well. But the special class kids were the brothers and sisters of our friends and classmates, and as such were part of a community of schoolkids who were for the most part only a little less "different".

And it's not that it was so hard to like the kids with Down's. Affable Kevin had eventually gone on to charm even the high school football jocks and was ensconced as coach's assistant. The vivacious Suzette was an outrageous flirt who prefered older men. And patient Owen, my frequent seatmate on the bus who also sat quietly in sunday school and came to resemble in character the Man of Sorrows the nuns taught us about. I've forgotten the names of the others, but I can't remember a single DS kid who wasn't somehow engaged socially and emotionally with the rest of us.

If the figures on abortions of Down's pregnancies are accurate, there are far fewer members of the special class these day. It seems that ADD and autism are now the focus of special needs programs. As we come in contact with fewer DS kids, this situation becomes worst as Down's Syndrome becomes even more of a spectre to pregnant women. DS kids will become increasing rare, like elves departing Middle Earth until they are finally just a legend.

This is an incalculable loss. Not only can DS kids approach "normal" development levels with aggressive occupational therapy, but more importantly, even if they lack intellectual prowess they retain a sweetness of character most of us can't hold onto into adult life. Emotionally they are archives of affection and ambassadors of innocence.

And maybe this is reason enough for our world's eagerness to be rid of them.

Cross-posted on Discarded Lies
papijoe 12:55 PM