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Developmental Disabilities

Stereotypes and Misconceptions About Down Syndrome In Kenya

By March 19, 2024No Comments5 min read
Limiting beliefs are not equal to Facts

Stereotypes and Misconceptions Surrounding Down Syndrome in Kenya

Often, due to a lack of information on matters of Disabilities, people have interesting beliefs about people living with disabilities.

Some of these beliefs are not true. As we celebrate World Down Syndrome Day, we seek to dismantle these beliefs. By educating ourselves we will best #endthestereotypes surrounding Down Syndrome. Before debunking the stereotypes, we must remind ourselves of the Facts of Down Syndrome.

It is important to note that we do not refer to it as Downs. You should not address an individual living with Down Syndrome as a Downs child. We also do not call them retards as it’s wildly offensive.

Stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding Down Syndrome in Kenya include:

  1. The parent’s sins caused it.

Down syndrome is a genetic condition and not the sins of a parent.


It occurs when a person carries an additional complete or partial copy of chromosome 21. This means that the baby’s development is changed and that the body cells contain more genetic material.


Individuals who have Translocation Down syndrome can inherit Down syndrome from a parent who is not affected. The parent’s genetic material is rearranged between chromosome 21 and another chromosome.


We refer to this reorganization as a balanced translocation. A balanced translocation results in neither the acquisition nor loss of genetic material, therefore these chromosomal abnormalities often have no negative effects on health.


But this translocation might grow out of balance as it is passed down to the following generation. Individuals who receive an imbalanced chromosomal 21 translocation may carry additional Down syndrome-causing genetic material.


Please note that although the probability of giving birth to a child with Down syndrome increases with age, it’s not entirely true.   80% of babies with Down syndrome are born to women under the age of 35. Mothers of all ages can have children with Down syndrome.


Read more on types of Down Syndrome here:


  1. People with Down Syndrome are always happy / don’t feel pain.


Just as individuals without Down syndrome experience a range of emotions, those with Down syndrome also experience emotions such as depression and anxiety.


Due to the expectation for them to always be “happy,” these mental health issues may go unnoticed or untreated. It is important to recognize and address the emotional well-being of people with Down syndrome. People with Down syndrome feel pain.

They may not register pain like we do but they do feel pain. According to a journal published by the Lancet, Individuals with Down syndrome express pain more slowly and less precisely than neurotypical people.


  1. People with Down syndrome all look the same.


People with Down syndrome may have similar features such as face and eye shape. Like any other group of people, there’s a very huge difference from person to person. People with Down syndrome look more like their relatives than they do people with Down Syndrome.


  1. People with Down Syndrome die young


Thanks to research and medical improvements, a person with Down syndrome often lives to be close to 60 years old. A few individuals with Down syndrome have reached their 80s. It is a fact that individuals with Down syndrome typically have shorter lifespans than those without the condition.


  1. Down syndrome is not characterized by the inability to walk.


Early physical therapy, however, is crucial to ensuring appropriate walking and lays the groundwork for athletic aptitude. Similar to neurotypical persons, people with Down syndrome exhibit a range of athletic skills and degrees of agility. There are sports teams with individuals with Down syndrome throughout the world, such as those run by Special Olympics. Visit Special Olympics Kenya to learn more.


  1. Adults with Down Syndrome are unemployable

Businesses such as Brownies and Downies employ adults living with Down Syndrome. They can be employed in positions such as managers, nurses, service providers, etc. They also work in entertainment, childcare, computer-related industries, and sports. They also make dope content creators.

Check out this cool video on  #endingthestereotypes shared by Madison Tevlin, a Canadian Actress living with Down Syndrome.


  1. People with Down syndrome are not fit to be in society.

Individuals with Down syndrome actively engage in social, recreational, and educational activities. They participate in athletics, music, art classes, and all other community events in addition to being a part of the regular school system. Individuals with Down syndrome contribute much to society and are cherished members of their families and communities.


  1. People with Down syndrome are always sick

Certain medical ailments including congenital heart defects, respiratory issues, hearing problems, and thyroid conditions are more common in people with Down syndrome. Most people with Down syndrome can lead healthy lives because of advancements in medical care and the treatment of these problems.

  1. People with Down Syndrome have a severe cognitive disability

Learning difficulties and or cognitive impairment, are common in people with Down syndrome and typically vary from mild to moderate. This does not represent all of the different skills and abilities that each person has. Be mindful of the additional time someone with a disability may need to complete tasks or communicate.


  1. People with Down Syndrome can’t be independent

Individuals with Down syndrome may differ greatly from one another. As a result, some people might be rather self-sufficient, while others will require more assistance. Nonetheless, individuals with Down syndrome are fully capable of leading very independent lives; some may become homeowners, have children, get married, and work a 9–5 job.

As we commemorate this year’s World Down Syndrome Day, we hope you’ve unlearned some of your beliefs. Do share this blog with your friends and family.

You can continue to support us by:

  • Participating in the #mismatchedsocks #geuzawazo campaign. To participate rock your mismatched socks and tag us (@geuzawazo) across all social media pages.
  • Educate yourself on matters of Down Syndrome. Our blog and social media have tons of information on this.
  • Show up for our Instagram live on Thursday at 9:00 PM East African Time.
  • Share the knowledge with friends and family.
  • Donate your time, and skills as a volunteer with us.
  • Make monetary donations via our


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