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Aster's avatar

Are Down's Syndrome people happier than other people?

Asked by Aster (18207points) August 4th, 2014

When I see little Down’s Syndrome kids at the store they are always so sweet, smiling and sometimes reach out to touch me. A woman up the street dances on the sidewalk while she talks to her dog. Is it my imagination or do these victims feel joy from not knowing what’s going on? Or do you know someone who is depressed who has the disease? Does “ignorance is bliss” apply here?

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9 Answers

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

The question is understandable. It often seems that they are happier based upon brief interactions and what is portrayed on television and movies.

Down Syndrome is not a disease. It is a genetic defect. Most people with DS do not develop mentally further than the level of a pre-teen. This is why they may appear to you as childlike. The people with Down Syndrome are not victims unless victimized.

This is a great question, and I encourage you to read up on DS, as well as talk to these children and their parents. It is an opportunity to not only learn more about DS but make some new friends.

Coloma's avatar

Of course they are! Having a childlike presence and no worries and pressures of fully functioning people, such as work, paying bills, stress. I am also very impressed with a DS actress on the FX series ” American Horror story.” She is amazing!

Mariah's avatar

I would imagine it would vary a lot based on the individual.

JLeslie's avatar

I think it varies too. Like all people, people with DS are individuals and their experience in life is different for each person. I know a couple of my religious friends really want to believe DS kids and adults are always happy. It seems to be some sort of thing intwined with being pro-life.

I guess we would have to ask DS people if they feel happy to really know how they feel. I would assume they know they are “different.” I don’t think anyone likes feeling different, especially when they are children, but I am just assuming. Growing up I used to play with a DS boy. I didn’t even know he had DS, or that he was different, until my mother told me. Not that she was saying anything negative, she was just fine with me playing with him, and she was very friendly with the boys mom. I don’t think he was always happy. I remember him frustrated at times, and I think he had some health problems related to his genetic abnormalities. By the way, many DS infants are born with health problems. Some of the most serious are digestive and heart from what I understand, which can require surgery. Almost half of DS children are born with a heart defect. 15–20% have serious digestive problems that need surgery almost within days of birth or they would die.

Sort of related, but not quite what you are asking; my grocery store has a lot of DS employees. I think it probably helps DS people feel good, but I really can’t speak for them of course. Randy Lewis who had a very senior position at Walgreens implemented an initiative to hire disabled people, including DS and autistic people, at their distribution centers. It was wildly successful, and other companies have adopted his plan. He wrote a book if you are interested titled No Greatness Without Goodness.

There is a lot of work for the parents that’s for sure. Not to mention the worry parents have if they themseves died. All parents are terrified of leaving their children without a parent, but the fear for their DS kids usually last their entire lifetime.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

No. I have worked as a carer for people with Down’s Syndrome (amongst other disabilities), so I’ve seen a side that many people don’t. While they can be extremely happy, caring, gentle, and nurturing, many also have a side that is selfish, grumpy, and obstinate. But it can appear to the rest of us that they are happier than the average person, because we forgive their sometimes difficult behaviour so easily. As we rightly should.

As Freud so aptly said, happiness is by definition episodic. A person can either allow suffering and pleasure to affect them only a little, or they can experience great suffering and pleasure. But whatever the approach, given similar circumstances, the happiness over time of a level person and that of a highly emotional person is the same.

JLeslie's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh I wonder if you know if this new trend to hire people with DS, if they are paid the same wages as everyone who occupies those jobs?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t know for certain, as it has been a few years since I worked in that job. However I suspect it would depend on the individual employer and staff member. People with Down’s Syndrome, like most developmental disorders, have a broad range of abilities, and therefore their job performance and assistance levels would vary quite markedly.

JLeslie's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Sure, but if they are doing the same job, they should get the same pay. The business dose not hire them unless they can do the job.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@JLeslie Oh absolutely they should. But if the business were to hire them without the same expectations, for example providing a greater level of supervision, they may choose to pay less.

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