Down's syndrom : do they know what money is ?
January 17, 2009 4:12 AM   Subscribe

Down's syndrom : do they know what money is ?

In France, a mobile phone company is using Cannes festival prize winner and famous Down's syndrom person Pascal Duquenne to tell us about their latest low rates.

I would like to know how much he understands of his text. Do the people with Down's syndrom understand what money is, what price is a bargain and what price is robbery ?

Just to make sure : I have no disrespect for these persons, I simply don't know very well how they are and what they know, hence this question.
posted by Baud to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
OK, first read this. I'll wait for you.

Done? Good.

Down syndrome is what could be called a staircase injury. If you push 100 people down a staircase, you'll have a hundred different injuries of various extents. Many people with Down syndrome are cognitively impaired, but cognitive impairment itself is not black and white. Some people are severely impaired and have little understanding of anything. Some are only slightly impaired have a good understanding of most things (I would hold up Carrie Bergeron as an example of that). Some are moderately impaired and never come in contact with people who care enough to educate them in line with their needs.

So the answer to your direct question is it depends on the person. My daughter is almost six and is starting to read and she sure as heck knows what money is and what it is for. I have no doubt that she will understand what a good price is and what a bad price is when she is older. I have a sense that she may be over trusting as she gets older and could be taken advantage of based on that.
posted by plinth at 4:28 AM on January 17, 2009 [8 favorites]

It's not like a switch where everyone who has it is on exactly the same level. Or, to state it bluntly, it's congenital mental impairment, not congenital dumbass.

Some will know just fine what money is and might happen to be better at finding bargains and living within their means than you are. Others will be more impaired and have fundamental problems with the idea, and in between.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:29 AM on January 17, 2009

Response by poster: if your first link was about the correct spelling, I would like to stress that english is not my mother tongue.
posted by Baud at 4:56 AM on January 17, 2009

Uh, thirding what as already been said. The whole stairs analogy was a bit strange but relevant, just like us able minded folk people with down's vary in their abilities, I thought that was common knowledge.... If you're interested in this kind of stuff you should find a local group for people with mental disabilities, it really sounds like you should.
posted by BrnP84 at 5:00 AM on January 17, 2009

On a personal level, I know several people with Down syndrome and yes, some of them are good with money and some aren't. Kinda like non-Down people now that I think of it. That is awesome that a major company has a positive depiction of a person with different ability.
posted by saucysault at 5:02 AM on January 17, 2009

No, the first link is not just about spelling. There is also a wealth of information about Trisomy 21 as well as many people like you who want to learn. I'd assumed from quirks in your writing that English was not your first language.
posted by plinth at 5:15 AM on January 17, 2009

I work in special education, and some of my students have Down Syndrome. Most of them knew that money = getting stuff. I'm not sure if they all had a realistic view of how much things cost (one child told me that he'd buy a house because he had about $20 saved up) but they definitely had the concept. Like others have said, some kids had a better idea of money than others.
posted by christinetheslp at 5:21 AM on January 17, 2009

I've been thinking about this question on my way home from work and it started to get to me, the way you posted the question I find pretty offensive. "do THEY know what money is?" THEY are still people and deserve the respect of being considered unique and original, not lumped together as one giant collective group in society. French people all smell, American's are idiots, Canadian's are too polite, you just can't say that kind of stuff. On a side note, down's is only one of many developmental disabilites, odds are those people who you think have down's might not, I work with people with mental disabilities and down's is only one of many diagnoses we see. They are people first, remember that.
posted by BrnP84 at 5:26 AM on January 17, 2009

Response by poster: It may sound offensive in english but, once again, english is not my mother tongue. I was not aware of the offensive nuance of "they". How should I ask the question next time ?
posted by Baud at 5:36 AM on January 17, 2009

Full disclosure: My brother is developmentally disabled. He does not have Down syndrome, but he has many friends who do.

Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder which does not always cause mental/intellectual disabilities/retardation. I found this Wiki helpful in understanding that. It has been my assumption that many actors with Down syndrome (I'm thinking mainly of Pascal and Chris Burke of the American show 'Life Goes On', but there are other, less high-profile actors with Down syndrome) either are very highly functioning mentally within the range of mental disability or simply have Down syndrome without any mental disability, as acting is a very demanding craft. This assumption may not be correct.

I hope this is helpful - and for the record, I didn't find your phrasing offensive in any way. I would also like to say how delighted I am to hear that Pascal is involved in this ad campaign!
posted by pammeke at 5:39 AM on January 17, 2009

like *all* people with disabilities, people with DS (and other learning disabilities) function in a wide spectrum. some of the range of that spectrum has to do with the cognitive impairment. and some of the range of that spectrum has to do with our failings as a society to see a range of abilities, rather than just the disability.

so to answer the question: there are plenty of people with Down Syndrome who are good with money, and plenty of people who aren't. just as there are in the population at large.
posted by wayward vagabond at 6:53 AM on January 17, 2009

It may sound offensive in english but, once again, english is not my mother tongue. I was not aware of the offensive nuance of "they". How should I ask the question next time ?

"They" something that American liberals focus on when they find a generalization offensive. Don't sweat it. You can't rephrase the question in a way that no one will take offense to it-- some people are just automatically going to say "I am offended at this person's ignorance on the subject; everyone should know as much about it as I do" instead of "here is a chance to educate someone on a topic that they know little about and about which I feel very strongly."
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:03 AM on January 17, 2009 [32 favorites]

Here's a narrative that might educate. The young golfer, Carl Hibbert, Jr. , works a full time job, saves his money , and knows the value of a deal. Yes, he has had family, community, and system support in his early years. Over 30 now, he gives back to the community, church , and family at every opportunity. My nephew makes me proud.
posted by Agamenticus at 7:04 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

well said Major Curley.
If the haters spent as much time and effort actually shining a light we'd get a lot more done.

Yes, as expressed 'They" comes across badly to most native speakers of English, but this could be pointed out to a poster who clearly has good English but may not be aware of every political nuance of the language.

Thanks to Plinth again, through his experience as a parent I have learned a huge amount i didn't know about living with Trisomy 21. And also to agamenticus, for shining their particular lights!
posted by Wilder at 7:12 AM on January 17, 2009

Mod note: a few comments removed - you may want to take larger scale callouts to metatalk, thanks
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:31 AM on January 17, 2009

Most people with Down syndrome, not all, learn to handle money. It's a reasonable question; that's the answer.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:32 AM on January 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I knew of one person with Down Syndrome who worked in a bank to give you an idea of the upper end if the spectrum. More generally my experience of working with people with Down Syndrome corresponds to ikkyu2's answer.
posted by tallus at 12:32 PM on January 17, 2009

Speaking of shining a light, I've met quite a few Down Syndrome people but had no idea there was such a wide range of cognitive ability. The link to the National Down Syndrome Congress blew me away. The answers to this question have been illuminating in the best possible way.
posted by t0astie at 3:19 PM on January 17, 2009

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