The Politics of Down Syndrome by Kieron Smith is a book I've been wanting to read since I first heard about and am glad to finally have the opportunity to read it. It is definitely not your usual book on Down syndrome; nor is it even a memoir about Down syndrome; although Kieron is the father to a daughter who has Down syndrome.
This books takes a look at the historical descriptions of Down syndrome and how, even though we know so much more about it, our (society) thoughts and attitudes seem to have largely remained unchanged. Perceptions about Down syndrome are still steeped in decades old stereotypes. This has continued to affect attitudes and prevent full inclusion and acceptance of persons with Down syndrome in their communities.
Mr Smith also takes a look at the medical field and how the negative image of Down syndrome starts during pregnancy by applying the term "risk" to a prenatal test for Down syndrome. How much weight does it carry to say "Your risk of having a child with Down syndrome is (fill in the blank) percent." By applying the word 'risk' it seems to equal something negative happening. Using the word 'chance' would be much more neutral.
Since Mr Smith lives in the UK a lot, but not all, of the references are from that aspect, but can easily be applied to what is happening in the US as well.
I found this to be a very fascinating, and quick (it's a slim book) read. This is a great book for parents, educators and the medical field ... this is a book that should also be shared with and read by the general population outside of the Down syndrome community.
An excerpt from the book,
"The hurdle for society is to somehow come to appreciate the essence of the title of Dobzhansky's work that differences are not deficits, that difference should just be accepted. This does not have to be divisive, it does not have to mean that difference is celebrated in a way that divides communities, and rather it should appreciate the commonality in the human experience. Because we are all different, our genes and experiences, then a society that recognizes and appreciates the talents and difference of everyone, is a society that can truly be both enlightened and progressive. Ignoring status, wealth and power and focusing on what each person can achieve.
Now how do we get society to embrace differences?
Kieron is also a Trustee of Down Syndrome Education International and all proceeds from the book are donated to DSE.
Kieron Smith has generously donated a copy of his book for this giveaway - thank you!
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