From Our Readers
Why Babies Deformed?
I just finished reading your article “Why Are Some Babies Born Deformed?” As a father of a handicapped child, let me say that it is not an easy chore to raise a handicapped child, but the rewards and joys even for the self-esteem that can be seen developing in your child far outweigh the pains. Please continue being conscious of those who are handicapped.
B. & J. B., California
As the mother of a profoundly retarded child I can’t agree with those parents who seem so desperately to grasp at straws and try to make a “blessing” out of a tragedy. A dentist once said of my little boy, “Sometimes blessings come in disguises.” I simply replied, “Nothing makes up for not having a normal child.” I know he knows I love him, but in no way are his handicaps a blessing.
In your article “Why Are Some Babies Born Deformed?” you used the word “mongolism” twice. The correct term is “Down’s Syndrome.” Dr. Langdon Down first described this syndrome about 100 years ago and it bears his name. Because of a vague resemblance in the face of such a child to the Asian races, in times past he was described as a “mongol” and therefore the old terms “mongolism” and “mongoloid.” However, it is incorrect to associate the condition with Asians, who could be offended by the term. It is considered demeaning to refer to a child as a “mongoloid.”
J. H., California
Thank you for your letter. The words in question are listed in Webster’s latest dictionary as acceptable. However, we realize that attitudes toward certain expressions change over the years and we endeavor to show proper regard for the feelings of others. Where we can use expressions that are understandable and that do not offend the sensitivities of others we try to do that. Those who feel that terms describing certain handicaps are inappropriate may find that it takes many years before customary usage changes, if it does at all, to conform to their viewpoint. In the meantime they will be greatly aided if they take into account the attitude of the speaker or writer. They will often find that it is respectful and helpful, not at all demeaning.—ED.
From Our Readers
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A. N., England
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C. & I. A., New York
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O. L., Canada