Thursday, October 31, 2013

Final post of Down Syndrome Awareness Month

(Re-posted from Facebook)  I’ll end Down Syndrome Awareness Month with a horror story, which is appropriately fitting for Halloween. (Link below) Before I do that, though, I hope that my posts have given you some insight into Wesley and Ds in general.  What the Ds community needs from you is simple: invite our kids to playgroups, to your child’s birthday party, to a museum, to do anything that you’d do with your typical children.  Studies show that interacting with people with Down syndrome creates a more positive outlook on life, so let’s start including them in others’ lives.  If you notice there aren’t any differently-abled kids in a class at school, ask about it.  Encourage your children to sit with a differently-abled child at lunch or play with them at recess.  And model this behavior yourself, because the more you treat my child like a “normal” kid, the more your children will, too.  

Here is the link I promised.  It is not for the faint of heart, but this is how Down syndrome was viewed and in some ways is still viewed, judging by the abortion rate from those receiving a prenatal diagnosis.  Wesley and others with Ds are not mistakes.  Their lives are worth living. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

An Open Letter to Instagram

Dear Instagram,

As you may know, October is Down Syndrome awareness month. This month is in place to help promote acceptance, inclusion, appreciation, and respect for people with Down Syndrome across the U.S.  As you probably also know, many people in the IG community use #downsyndrome to make fun of how they look in pictures or when they're doing something dumb in a picture. Imagine that you are a family member scrolling through pictures tagged #downsyndrome to see other beautiful faces of kids and adults who are experiencing life as you do and then you stumble across some of these hateful and ugly pictures. Clearly #downsyndrome is being used as a joke and an insult. Because, obviously, people with Down Syndrome make stupid faces all the time, do dumb things, and are generally a laughable presence in our society. Oh, that's just the ugly stereotype that is being perpetuated by these ignorant folks. And it's also being perpetuated by Instagram for not taking down these pictures when they are reported as harassment or bullying.

I have tried to engage some of these people to explain why the hashtag #downsyndrome is hurtful in that context. I've had a couple of people respond respectfully that they were wrong and promise to stop using it. Most have been hateful, telling me things like, "There is a cure for Down Syndrome. It's called abortion." As a mother of a beautiful son who has DS, you can probably imagine how devastating a comment like that is.

On behalf of the large Down Syndrome community here on Instagram, I am asking that you look at your harassment/bullying policy and update it to include that pictures with the hashtag #downsyndrome will be removed when reported or, at the very least, the offending comment and hashtag will be removed from the comments on the picture. I have reported multiple pictures and comments and have, disappointingly, seen no action taken by Instagram.

I love your app and I appreciate the community you have provided. Please continue to make this a safe place for all people, regardless of their differences.

Amy Knueppel

Sent from my iPhone