Section Heading Background Image


For people with Down syndrome, family members, caregivers and professionals.


September 2010 | Brian Chicoine, MD - Medical Director, Adult Down Syndrome Center

Self-awareness. Self-appreciation. Self-esteem.

These can be difficult pursuits for people without Down syndrome and sometimes for people with Down syndrome. Some of our most challenging patients have been individuals who were very unhappy about having Down syndrome. We generally try to redirect the thinking towards positive aspects of the person’s personality and look at skills rather than lack of skills. It can sometimes be taxing.

However, some individuals have a real sense of themselves. I would like to share a story from a recent office visit.

A young man asked me why his legs were short. I had him stand and assured him that his legs were appropriate. Upon further questioning, it was clear the real question was that he wanted to know why he was shorter than his brother.

I explained to him that people with Down syndrome tend to be shorter. On the other hand, he has many fine characteristics, some of which his brother does not have.

He was very comfortable with that explanation.

His next comment made it clear that he not only had self-awareness, self-appreciation, and self-esteem but he understood we all have strengths as well as other characteristics. He said, “I have Down syndrome but my brother has Dork syndrome,” and he laughed in a way brothers laugh with each other.

Dr. McGuire has done a wonderful job of explaining more about helping a person with Down syndrome with self-esteem in our book Mental Wellness in Adults with Down Syndrome.

Find More Resources

We offer a variety of resources for people with Down syndrome, their families and caregivers and the professionals who care for and work with them. Search our collection of articles, webinars, videos, and other educational materials.

View Resource Library


Please note: The information on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for a medical, psychiatric, mental health, or behavioral evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment plan by a qualified professional. We recommend you review the educational material with your health providers regarding the specifics of your health care needs.