Why this dad wants people to stop calling Down syndrome an 'illness'

Robb Scott of Nova Scotia, Canada, wants the world to understand that his son, and others like him, have just as much to offer as any child.

A Canadian father took to Facebook to advocate for his son, who is diagnosed with Down syndrome, in an emotional five-minute video that has struck a chord online.

His video, viewed more than a million times since it was posted Feb. 20, asks people to look beyond the diagnosis and see the beauty and joy of the individual.

“I’m just making this video because I feel like I need to karmically reset what just happened,” says Robb Scott of Nova Scotia, Canada.

He tells about overhearing a boy ask his father a question, "What is Down syndrome?" The father, in reply called it an illness – a moment that Mr. Scott said was deeply saddening. His own 5-year-old son, Turner, has the genetic disorder.

“I didn’t think his dad was trying to be mean,” he goes on in the tearful video. “I can see he was searching for the right thing to say, and he said it was an illness... of not knowing anything.”

“[It was] one of those moments where you don’t know how to act, you don’t know how to react. I didn't say anything,” Scott says. “But I heard that voice in my head say, ‘Tell him what it is,’ and I didn’t. I let that ignorance grow in another generation – and failed my son in the process.”

In an interview with ABC, Scott explained that it was a missed moment because the boy who had asked the question could have been educated about the issue in a way that doesn’t stigmatize Down syndrome.

"He asked it in the most honest, sincere way. He was a blank slate,” he said of the boy. "I let him understand it for something it wasn't. I let his father define it for him and that hit me hard. This was a child, a child that's my son's age and I could've corrected him, not in a rude way, and I didn't."

Scott shot the video in his car immediately upon leaving the store, to "reset" the moment and answer the child's question: “Down syndrome is literally one of the most beautiful things that’s ever happened to my life. It’s fun, it’s brilliant, it’s amazing, it’s funny, it’s kind, it’s loving, it’s cuddly.”

Scott wants the world to know that his son, and others like him, have just as much to offer as their typically developing peers.

“They’re great teachers, people with Down syndrome,” Scott said. “It’s not an illness. It's not an illness. It is not even a disability.”

He continued, "I believe people are teachers and learners. We're both. We have the ability to teach things, and we're here to learn things. A well-educated man does not have more to teach than my son. He has different things to teach, but he does not have more to teach."

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