Language Matters

Language is important, so here is a guide on what to say and what not to say.

We rely on health professionals, teachers and other people in positions of standing to speak about issues relating to Down syndrome in a way that is both factually accurate and inoffensive to the general public, including people with Down syndrome and their families.

Here are guidelines to ensure you are not perpetuating any myths about the condition.

View our language cards and feel free to share with friends, family, professionals and on social media.

Do not say

A Downs baby/person/child

Downs (as an abbreviation)

Suffers from OR is a victim of Down syndrome

Mentally handicapped/backward/retarded


The ‘risk’ of a baby having Down syndrome (in relation to pre-natal screening)

Do say

A person/child with Down syndrome or who has Down syndrome

DS (as an abbreviation if necessary)

Has Down syndrome

Learning disability or intellectual disability

Condition OR genetic condition

The ‘chance’ of a baby having Down syndrome

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