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How come you don’t want one? Living with Down Syndrome

Gothard, J. (2011) How come you don’t want one? Living with Down Syndrome. The Conversation, 26 August .

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NRL player Craig Wing has a sister with Down Syndrome. AAP


“Fuck you, Wing, your sister has Down syndrome!”

These words were once hurled at NSW rugby league star Craig Wing while he was playing for the Sydney Roosters against the Canterbury Bulldogs at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Wing, the long-term patron of the Down Syndrome Association of NSW, responded to the abuse with incredulity. The ugliness of the language is matched only by the ugliness of the sentiments it represents.

Family is of course beyond the pale when it comes to sledging, but this story also underlines continuing divisions within society about Down syndrome and about disability more generally.

Clearly there is a sector of society, and not just confined to football fans, which still considers having a family member with a disability such as Down syndrome to be shameful.

My daughter with Down syndrome has never been a source of shame to our family. Indeed we are enormously proud of the fine young woman she has become, but there is no doubt that her journey and ours could have been easier if social attitudes towards people with disabilities had been more positive.

My recent book Greater Expectations was written to highlight the role of attitudes and expectations in shaping the experience of disability today.

Item Type: Non-refereed Article
Publisher: The Conversation Media Group
Copyright: The Author
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