October is ‘Down Syndrome Awareness Month,’ so all month long we are shining a light on Down syndrome with our series ‘Up with Downs.’
A person with Down syndrome not only faces medical challenges in their lives, but legal ones as well.
Mika Hartman prepared the best she could for the complications that her son Hudson would face after birth. But what she wasn’t ready for was the numerous disadvantages that people with Down syndrome are expected to deal with.
A person with Down syndrome cannot expect to marry another person who also has the condition as that can cause them to lose their supplemental security income and their health insurance.
Lobbyist for the National Down Syndrome Society Kayla McKeon tells News 25 that she’s helped introduce a new bill aimed at allowing for people with special abilities to keep their benefits if married. “Individuals like me that want to find love, want to be able get married and unfortunately we can’t because of these, all of these benefits we would lose.”
It doesn’t stop there. Another burden facing people with Down syndrome is the lack of support in the country’s education system. A person with Down syndrome who is looking to attend college will have trouble getting financial assistance. Mika said, “How can somebody sit in their home and decide whether or not a child with Down syndrome or an adult with Down syndrome has the ability to go to school and maintain anything? That’s not their walk.”
A concern for Hartman is Mississippi’s law that allows for a student to be restrained and secluded. In a report by the Department of Education, 67 percent of students with special needs are subjected to restraint or seclusion.
According to Hartman, if this doesn’t change, she doesn’t feel safe sending Hudson to school. “It just seems so backwards in a society that we have today to be talking about kids being able to be physically restrained in a classroom setting. I don’t know of many teachers that are doctors or that have the ability to make those decisions.”
The ‘Keeping All Students Safe Act’ was recently introduced to congress in attempt to change those laws.