Contact Us

Preferred Language Guide: Down Syndrome - featured August 1, 2011

< Back to Previous Page

Preferred Language Guide

All material Copyright © 2009 National Down Syndrome Society
Reprinted with the express permission of the National Down Syndrome Society as originally published on their Website.

By: The National Down Syndrome Society

Below is the proper use of language for ‘Down syndrome’:
  • Down vs. Down’s: NDSS use's the preferred spelling, Down syndrome, rather than Down’s syndrome. While Down syndrome is listed in many dictionaries with both popular spellings (with or without an apostrophe s), the preferred usage in the United States is Down syndrome. This is because an “apostrophe s” connotes ownership or possession. Down syndrome is named for the English physician John Langdon Down, who characterized the condition, but did not have it. The AP Stylebook recommends using “Down syndrome” as well.
  • People with Down syndrome should always be referred to as people first. Instead of “a Down syndrome child,” it should be “a child with Down syndrome.” Also avoid “Down’s child” and describing the condition as “Down’s,” as in, “He has Down’s.”
  • Down syndrome is a condition or a syndrome, not a disease.
  • People “have” Down syndrome, they do not “suffer from” it and are not “afflicted by” it.
  • It is clinically acceptable to say “mental retardation,” but you should use the more socially acceptable “intellectual disability”.

Featured Organization: National Down Syndrome Society

We thank the National Down Syndrome Society for allowing us to reprint their copyrighted article. The mission of the National Down Syndrome Society is to be the national advocate for the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.

The National Down Syndrome Society envisions a world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity to enhance their quality of life, realize their life aspirations, and become valued members of welcoming communities. For more information about this organization please visit National Down Syndrome Society

Tags: OT PT SLP School Based Psychology Down Syndrome Article Newsletter 5 August 2011