As a parent of a four-year-old child with Down syndrome I too wonder what is the consequence of this kind of therapy (A Father’s Search for A Drug for Down Syndrome, Dan Hurley, July 31, 2011).
I am reminded of the novel Flowers for Algeron – where the parallel stories of a lab mouse and a man who is mentally retarded have both undergone experimental surgery to increase their mental facilities. Initial success is followed by the devastating return of their initial intellectual state. Dr Costa’s knows what he observes these drugs do, but does he know what it means for the future well being of his subjects?
I wish our son was not plagued by health issues related to Down syndrome and I do fear for our child’s future and his functioning as an independent person. But, I fear more the unknown consequences of this kind of medical intervention.
In the past, people with Down syndrome used to be locked away from society in institutions because we believed they could not function as part of society. Now, with prenatal testing we can actually prevent these people from being born.
My husband and I often hear from people how happy people with Down syndrome are. We think don’t think our son is “happy” but “evolved”. He lives in the moment. He is ego-less. He is amazing. Will he solve algebra problems in the future? Maybe. Already at age four-something he can operate the DVD player that my mother who is above average in intelligence is incapable of learning.
The world isn’t just for people who solve algebra problems. It is also for people who represent our better selves. We for one do not want to cure our son of being who is. The world is lucky to have him as he is.
To Mr. Hurley, I would ask why you didn’t believe it necessary to interview a an adult person with Down syndrome on their thoughts regarding Dr. Costa’s drug therapies.