LETTER: Unpredictability of Down's handicaps

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The Independent Online
From The Rev John Hartley

Sir: I read with scepticism your report on predicting the level of handicap in babies with Down's syndrome ("Foetus test shows level of Down's handicap", 4 April). My own son scored highly in his "development quotient" tests, conducted when he was aged one and two years, and we were told this might indicate later IQ levels. However, his IQ now (age six) is very low, mainly because his language is extremely delayed. Language accounts for an immense amount in childhood development, and could not be predicted by early tests.

The "level of handicap" is not the main factor in how the child turns out - temperament and social behaviour are much more crucial. Despite my son's low abilities at some tasks, he is a loveable little boy who rarely fails to make a good impression on those who meet him.

Down's syndrome was not diagnosed before my son was born, and I will admit to misgivings when he arrived. But I wouldn't swap him now.

Yours sincerely,

JOHN HARTLEY

Stoke-on-Trent

4 April

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