Down’s Syndrome and Life - in conversation with Luke Jenkins
To mark World Down's Syndrome Day, Luke tells us about what this means to him.
As some of you may know, the 21st of March is World Down’s Syndrome day. A day where people wear colourful socks (because chromosomes are often said to resemble socks), share stories and try to break stigmas about the condition.
Down’s Syndrome (sometimes referred to as Trisomy 21) occurs when someone is born with an extra copy of their 21st chromosome. While babies are normally born with 46 chromosomes, babies with Down’s Syndrome have 47.
It is classed as a learning disability, and can affect people in different ways.
My younger brother Luke has Down’s Syndrome, and we decided to sit down together and talk about what having Down’s Syndrome means to him.
Alicia: What does having Down’s Syndrome mean to you?
Luke: I don’t know anything different. I am me.
A: Do you want to tell people who don’t have DS something about DS?
L: It is just me. It is not a bad thing
A: Do you think people treat you differently because you have DS?
L: I don’t care what they think.
A: Are there ways non-disabled people could be nicer to disabled people?
L: Just be nice to everyone, and everyone would be happier.
Q: Do you enjoy your life?
A: Most of the time.
Q: Oh? When do you not enjoy it?
A: When I have to do life skills and boring work at school.
(‘life skills’ is a subject Luke is taught at school. It includes practical lessons like learning how to make a bed, do household chores or cook food. Luke has often said he doesn’t like it because he doesn’t like having to do chores!)
This world Down’s Syndrome day is a day to celebrate people like Luke. And there is an awful lot to celebrate! Luke is a fantastic young man. He’s funny, kind, intelligent and an amazing brother. However, it’s also a time to remind ourselves that there are things we can do to make the world a more accessible place. I think that Luke best encapsulated the easiest place to start ‘just be nice to everyone’.
He doesn’t want people to feel sorry for him because he has Down’s Syndrome. It’s a big part of who he is, but as Luke says himself ‘it’s just me…it’s not a bad thing’.