Eline, Thijs’ daughter, was born with Down syndrome. He wouldn’t have missed her for the world, but society tends to still respond negatively and Thijs wants to change that.
When Eline was born with Down syndrome, both society and doctors responded mostly negative. An unfair reaction to a wonderful occasion. Thijs wants to fight the negativity that often accompanies the conversation around Down syndrome. In his song You&Me he raps about his experiences as a father of a child with Down syndrome. He received countless positive responses to his song from fathers in the same situation.
Education to fit the times
Many fathers of children with Down syndrome responded after hearing Thijs’ song. What started out as one man’s story, became the story of many, shared not only with fathers going through the same thing, but with many people who either know someone with Down syndrome or who feel the conversation needs to change as well. Thijs wants to shine a light on the positive side of Down syndrome, the one that is often overshadowed by the focus on the negative.
Last year, the Netherlands saw the implementation of the NIP test; the Non-Invasice Prenatal Test. This test screens for several harmful birthdefects and for Down Syndrome as well. Though over here, it is emphasized that you have the right to ‘not know’, the education surrounding the cons and pros of Down Syndrome is very dated.
"When screening for Down syndrome, there are some sidenotes that need to be acknowledged." says pediatrician Michel Weijerman. "Many people don’t realise that healthproblems among children with Down syndrome are less and less of an issue. In the past, many children with the syndrome died of a heartdefect. Now that number is down to a mere 3 percent."
Because the healthrisks have decreased so dramatically, the education surrounding Down syndrome deserves an update to fit the times where the emphasis isn’t just on the negative medical risks, but which gives a realistic view of what parents can expect and what positive sides there are to a child with Down Syndrome, because there are plenty!
A positive sound
Several organisations, such as De Upside van Down, are hard at work to change the education that is given regarding Down syndrome. You&Me is a different kind of sound. First because it’s a song, secondly because it’s a father’s perspective, while usually the mothers are prone to chime in. And lastly, because it’s from someone who wasn’t positive about Down syndrome before the birth of his daughter.
"In the discussions regarding the implementation of the NIPT, it’s often mothers who consciously chose to not do any prenatal tests, or who consciously chose to let their child with Down syndrome be born. For me it was very different and I didn’t necessarily want a child with Down syndrome. So I truly understand the opposition, but I can also speak from experience and say that all arguments don’t matter anymore." – Thijs de Bruijn
Down Syndrome association
The UK's Down syndrome association provides unbiased, objecttive information about Down syndrome and they offer training and support for parents as well as organise fundraisers.