What is Down Syndrome?
Although people with Down syndrome have a
range of learning disabilities, physicians,
educators, and parents now recognize that
these people's achievements may be most
influenced by what is expected of them.
This so-called environmental expectation
is perhaps the most important factor in
determining the educational and vocational
potential of people with Down syndrome.
On the other hand, intelligence-quotient
test scores, once considered an authoritative
indicator of educational potential, are
now seen to be of questionable value.
Educational and vocational opportunities have
also advanced. In the recent past, children
with Down syndrome were relegated to institutions,
receiving minimal social interaction or
educational opportunities. Today, children
with Down syndrome usually remain with
their families and are enrolled in public
schools. Often they attend regular classes
and learn skills such as reading and writing
alongside children without Down syndrome.
Adults with Down syndrome are employed
in a range of fields.
Experts now recognize that Down syndrome is
not always a lifelong disorder. Some individuals
diagnosed with mild Down syndrome as children
may gradually develop new skills through
early intervention and educational services.
As adults, they may function in everyday
life at a level that no longer warrants
a diagnosis of retardation.
All but the most profoundly retarded people
usually can best develop their full potential
by living in the community. Most people
with Down syndrome have the capacity to
learn, advance intellectually, develop
job and social skills, and become full
participants in society. They may be indistinguishable
from other people. In order to achieve
their potential, mentally retarded children
need special education and training, which
ideally begins in infancy and continues
until they establish an adult role.
Early intervention programs can provide specialized
teaching and other services for infants,
toddlers, and preschool children. Such
programs try to optimize development of
the individual’s strengths. Whenever possible,
children with Down syndrome attend the
same school they would attend if they
did not have mental retardation. But they
receive instruction modified for their
specific needs. Federal law in the United
States requires that every school district
provide services to mentally retarded
children in regular schools.
Many people with Down syndrome are capable
of working in a variety of full or part-time
jobs. Studies have shown that most employers
are satisfied with the performance, work
attendance, and loyalty of people with
mental retardation. Employees with retardation
do not have more accidents on the job
than other workers, nor do they raise
employee health insurance or benefit costs.
Because people with retardation may take
longer to master job tasks, supervisors
may spend additional time with them during
the first few days or weeks of employment.
Job coaching programs established in some
communities provide a specialist who helps
in the initial training of a mentally
retarded individual. Employers who hire
individuals with Down syndrome may be
eligible for government tax credits and
other incentives. People with more severe
Down syndrome may work in other settings,
including special facilities known as
Despite their ability to work, most people
with Down syndrome do not have jobs. Surveys
indicate that only about 36 percent of
mentally retarded adults have full-time
or part-time jobs. Reasons for this low
employment rate may include a lack of
training in vocational and social skills,
lack of encouragement from others, and
a scarcity of community programs that
aid people with Down syndrome in finding
and maintaining employment. In addition,
employers may hesitate to hire people
with Down syndrome because of uncertainty
over how to provide accommodations for
How can we help them?
People with Down syndrome are shunned by the
society for no fault of theirs. But times
have changed and they are becoming useful
citizens who could perform as equal as
their normal brothers and sisters. Our
society has neglected many of the unfortunate
members of our country. Being a Buddhist
country we act in contrary to the teachings
of the Buddha.
People with Down syndrome can contribute to
the society but they need little more
help than they get now. They need to be
understood, cared and given encouragement
and they will match up to any healthy
person. These people at present are being
looked after by their own families. Fortunately
most families do not abandon their off
springs afflicted with Down syndrome.
Kosala Dullewa came this far because of the
encouragement, help and assistance that
he got from his family, friends and well
There is a lesson that can be learnt from
his efforts. Special children can do what
others do if given the necessary fillip.
The days when special children were institutionalised
are gone. The days when they were confined
to their own families and home are a thing
of the past. The days when they were hidden
from the society are no more. They must
and should be integrated in to the society.
With little tolerance and understanding
they will do well. If you too have a special
child, take a leaf from Kosala’s life.
It will help you and the child enormously.
It will help the child to be accepted
by the society, not shun him. You will
be amazed at how well the child will perform
given little encouragement. They will
be an asset, not a burden on you.
It is an encouragement for us to see you today.
We hope you enjoy this evening and we
are certain, that for a moment you will
forget that this performance is by a special
Our effort today is to establish a centre
where they could meet others in same situation.
The place will be a meeting point to meet
other families with members afflicted
with Down syndrome and share their experiences.
The Centre will not only cater for children
with Down syndrome but even for any child
with other disabilities as well. The primary
goal of the centre is to help and encourage
those afflicted people and also to un-earth
their hidden talents like, singing, dancing,
and artistic abilities instead of ostracising.
All proceeds of this event are going for the
establishment of the Centre for Special
Children. Your presence alone is an
encouragement and Kosala and we appreciate
it very much.
Please teach your children to accept the special
child, be it your own or of another, as
another brother, sister or a friend!