Your baby has just been diagnosed in utero with having Down syndrome, and you are scared. Scared because everything you remember about Down syndrome as a kid was not pretty. Scared because of what your doctor or Geneticist is telling you. Scared because of all you've read online, most of it negative, bad, and fatalistic.

Much of what is on the web today is outdated and inaccurate. Let's start dispelling these falsehoods right away.

“People with Down syndrome suffer.” Nothing could be further from the truth. People with Down syndrome do not feel pain any more than anyone else. They have the same capacity as anyone to be happy; sometimes even more so. They generally have a high self-esteem, they achieve to the best of their ability; they are educable. They love and are loved. They go to college, work meaningful jobs, drive cars, marry, entertain, and teach us. They do not suffer.

“A person with Down syndrome will not walk, talk, or read.” Again, not true. Some may have more difficulty than others with these skills, but the vast majority does these things and does them well.

“Down syndrome is a dreadful disorder.” Total speculation and absolute opinion. Most parents of a child with Down syndrome would disagree wholeheartedly.

“Down syndrome people are stupid and stop learning around 5th grade.” People with Down syndrome are not stupid. They are intellectually disabled, or mentally retarded. “Retarded” is defined as “slow or to go slow”. It may take longer for them to learn something, but learn they do. Some people with Down syndrome may find certain concepts difficult to forgive. Learning is a lifelong process. Many people with Down syndrome go to college. Could a 5th grader do that?

It is true that people with Down syndrome have more challenges relating health and life skills, but that does not mean their lives are not pleasant and not worth living. Some Down syndrome symptoms to be aware of include congenital heart defects (usually repairable through surgery), congenital gastro-intestinal defects (also surgically repairable), hypotonia or low-muscle tone, speech difficulties, thyroid issues, dental problems, and musculoskeletal problems.

It's important to note that while there are many symptoms of Down syndrome, one person does not exhibit all of the symptoms. One child may have a heart defect, have hypotonia, and need shoe orthotics for foot support. Another child may be born with Hirschsprung's disease, need extra help with speech, and be delayed in walking until age four. Yet a third child may have perfect heart and bowels but need glasses and hearing aids. Every child is different.