Many people have the misperception that individuals with Down syndrome are always happy. I have a few thoughts about happiness and Down syndrome. First, if you think this, then you’ve probably never interacted with a hormonal teenager with Down syndrome.
Jade, like most people, experiences a broad range of emotions, including anger, sadness, annoyance, disappointment, excitement, loneliness, happiness and so much more.
Then why is this happiness perception so widespread? I happen to think it’s for a few key reasons:
- The whole body. For many people with Down syndrome, happiness is more of an all-body expression, thus reflecting an unself-conscious pure sense of joy than what we might typically see when someone is happy. So when a person with Down syndrome is happy, you experience it more fully and remember it more.
- A natural bias toward goodness. Most of the individuals with Down syndrome with whom I’ve interacted are the kind of people who wake up in the morning assuming that everyone is good. When you start your day this way, it’s incredible how that positively impacts the people around you. When someone expects you to be good, it makes you feel happy.
- Empathy and Intuition. I’ve heard many friends and family members of an individual with Down syndrome state that their child/sibling/friend seems to know when you need that little extra hug or a smile. When you receive that, you feel better and happier.
- It is better to give than to receive. With #2 and #3 above, the person with Down syndrome is not necessarily happy but instead, they are giving you happiness. That in turn, makes them happy.
So, I think we perceive people with DS to always be happy because of the way they make US feel. When that feeling is strong, we remember it more deeply.
Maybe that extra chromosome is something the rest of us are just missing!
Chief Growth Officer
Looking for more information on Down syndrome? Check out our DS 101 page here.