'Words matter': Mom of baby with Down syndrome confronts rude comments

A French mom is striking a chord with parents of children with Down syndrome around the world after penning a heartfelt essay about some of the insensitive comments she has heard about her baby.

Caroline Boudet’s post on Facebook has been shared more than 30,000 times (and counting), with families thanking her for her candor and sharing their own frustrations.

Boudet, whose daughter has Down syndrome, explains that words matter to parents — leaving them either comforted or hurt — and urges people to think before they speak about a child. The Huffington Post has a full translation of the post, which was written in French.

“This is my daughter. Louise. She is 4 months old, and has two arms, two legs, two great chubby cheeks, and one extra chromosome,” Boudet writes.

“Please, when you meet someone like Louise, do not ask her mother, ‘Was it not detected during pregnancy?’ Either it was, and we can assume she made the decision to keep the baby, or it wasn't and the surprise was great enough that there's no need to revisit it.”

Boudet, who said she wrote the post after hearing unkind comments during a doctor’s visit with Louise, pleaded with people not to say things like "What a [cute] little Down syndrome child…”.

“She's a 4-month-old child who is suffering from Down syndrome, or who has Down syndrome, if you wish. This 47th chromosome isn't what she IS; it's what she HAS. You wouldn't say, ‘Oh what a little cancer sufferer,’” Boudet writes.

She asks people not to generalize and assume children with Down syndrome are alike.

“Don't say, ‘They are like this, they are like that.’ No. ‘They’ have their own personality, their own body, their own taste, their own journey. They are as different among themselves as you are from your neighbor,” she writes. Closing the post, she says she doesn't usually make her status updates public, but she hoped that people would read and share this one.

Boudet, who says she has been overwhelmed by messages of support since writing the essay, dedicates the post to all the new "Louise's moms" every year who will have to endure the same insensitive comments she has heard.

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