Jason’s mother and I watched as he tucked his hand into the nurse’s warm grasp and followed her back to the waiting room. The five-year-old youngster grinned broadly as his sparkling blue eyes glanced a hello to the pictures on the wall, and his unruly brown hair tossed to and fro when he spoke to the other nurses in the hall. He was happy and trusting. This was but a moment in a life that cried for our personal involvement, our sharing in the joy of that life. It was on this positive note that we turned to the consultation room for a discussion of Jason’s progress, problems, and future.

As we talked, I noted that Jason’s mother, normally as alive and happy as Jason himself, was more subdued and concerned. Her eyes were tired, a streak of grey touched her hair, and she seemed a bit preoccupied and somewhat anxious. As our conversation progressed, I understood why.

Her concern had been accentuated by the trip to my office. Accidentally bumping into an older lady in the elevator, Jason had begun to talk to her, only to be rewarded with a cold stare and the mumbled word “retarded.” Not understanding his rejection, Jason had begun to cry, only adding to his mother’s feelings of discomfort and anxiety.

Jason has Down’s syndrome, a disorder brought about by abnormal combinations of certain chromosomes. Among the characteristics of Down’s syndrome are such physical features as short stature, poor muscle tone, thickened neck tissues, and a slant to the eyes. Mentally, there is retardation of mild-to-moderate degree, and often speech difficulties are present. Socially, Down’s syndrome children have positive dispositions. Though often they may be a bit shy, they usually exhibit joy and pleasure. Jason’s characteristics were very similar, ...

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