French mother’s Facebook post on her baby's Down syndrome goes viral
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A French mother tired of hackneyed responses to her baby Louise, who has Down syndrome, took to Facebook to vent her frustration, writing a post that has since gone viral and attracted the empathy of thousands of readers.
The mother, Caroline Boudet, from Alençon in Normandy, exhorted people who came in contact with parents of children with Down syndrome to refrain from asking if the condition wasn’t detected during pregnancy.
“Either it was, and the parents took the decision to ‘keep the baby’. Or it was a surprise and the topic doesn’t need to be constantly revisited," Boudet wrote in French, adding that mothers already feel guilty enough about everything without blaming themselves for their child's condition.
Children with the condition, also known as trisomy 21, have three copies of their 21st chromosome instead of two and develop slower than other kids, both physically and mentally.
One in every 1570 babies born in France is estimated to have Down syndrome, according to Orphanet, an online journal on rare diseases.
In her Facebook post, dated June 8, Boudet urged people to clarify the language they used when they refer to the circumstances of babies like Louise, who is four months old.
“Don't tell her mother ‘it's your baby no matter what’. No. It's my baby, period. Plus: ‘nomatterwhat’ is quite an ugly name, I'd rather call her Louise,” she wrote in a post that is publicly viewable, explaining that she wanted people to be aware of these issues to avoid hurtful statements to other mothers like her.
Boudet underscored that it was important to distinguish between the condition of Down syndrome and the identity of a person. “It's not what she IS, it's what she HAS,” she said, imploring readers to avoid generalisations when they describe those with Down syndrome.
Boudet’s remarks struck a chord with readers, sparking thousands of responses and prompting more than 26,000 Facebook “likes”. Over 34,000 people had shared the post at the time this story was published.
“Louise is simply beautiful. She is a blessing and a gift from God, all children are. I'm happy she has a mother who is willing to stand up and tell people how things are!” wrote a reader Lorène Ordal.
Another reader, Nathan D. Kalcsa, said people with the syndrome should be looked up to. “I've volunteered with people with special needs many times in my life, and I have never met anyone with downs who wasn't loving, affectionate, caring, attentive to other's needs, and funny,” he wrote in comments.
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