Monday, June 7, 2010

Memory Keeper's Daughter: A Powerful Movie About The Misperception of Disabilities

Memory Keeper's Daughter is a very powerful tragedy about misperceptions of disabilities. The main character, Dr David Henry gives away his daughter at birth. and tells his wife that their daughter died. His justification for his actions is that his daughter has Down Syndrome, and his sister who also had Down Syndrome died in her teens. He considers Down Syndrome a terminal illness and prefers to save himself and his wife the pain of raising a child who will die at a young age. The problem for Dr. Henry is that, though he is not aware of it, Down Syndrome is not a terminal illness and people with Down Syndrome can and do live a very long time, thank you very much. In fact, in recent years, the life expectancy for people with Down Syndrome has been rapidly increasing.

Memory Keeper's Daughter underlines the problem with prejudging the impact of a disability. Many people erroneously believe that a disability is the end of the world. Dr David, believed that a dead child was better than a child with Down Syndrome. However, this movie is also about the people who loved the little girl and who could see beyond her disability to the wonderful girl she was and the wonderful woman she would become.

Watch the trailer for Memory Keeper's Daughter:

2 comments:

  1. Actually I think you will find that Dr David's sister did not have Down's Syndrome but died of a congenital heart defect and his concern about his daughter arises from the knowledge that about 47% of people born with Down's Syndrome also have congenital heart defects.

    His desire is to protect his wife from the pain his parents experienced at the death of their daughter, it is just a shame that as a doctor he didn't make a thorough examination of his baby girl as there is no further mention of any heart related issues so presumably she was not one of the 47%.

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  2. Hi Penny:

    You are right, I missed the detail that Dr. Henry's sister did not have Down Syndrome, but rather a heart defect. Thanks for clearing that up.

    I do realize that about half of people born with Down Syndrome also have heart defects. In fact, this is one of the reasons that the life span for people with Down Syndrome has been improving in recent years as I mentioned. People born with Down Syndrome are now routinely examined and watched for heart defects. Today as soon as a heart defect is found, it is often surgically corrected. Interestingly, people with Down Syndrome are often at a much lower risk of dying from cancer, a leading killer of the general population. The two issues tend of balance things out and today people with Down Syndrome are tending to live longer and longer life spans.

    This is the misperception that I was refering to. A disability does not mean the end of the world as many people, such as Dr. Henry, incorrectly believe. There are ways of coping with disabilities and there is often a rapid improvement in the conditions for people with disabilities such as the surgery for people with Down Syndrome. Life with a disability can still be wonderful.

    This is what this blog is all about.

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