When dealing with Down Syndrome, there are plenty of misconceptions, which we’ve tried to clear up by talking to Christine ‘Kiki’ Haddad, Art Therapist at the Learning Resource Center.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Egyptian society does not know how to correctly handle Down syndrome. After all, how can they handle something they do not know? Christine is positive there isn’t enough awareness, “even the parents of children with special needs don’t know what’s going on”, she says. From her experience, Christine knows integration is vital for a better life for those with Down Syndrome, “I was working in the US and they’re trying to integrate them in society. They take them out to the movies, dinner, or mall, so that they are exposed”, she tells, “the problem is that they’re ashamed of them in Egypt. People don’t know that Down exists and it’s like that here more than it is in a lot of countries”, she concludes.
Is Rahma’s case so special because of the way she was born, or the way she was brought up? Is her IQ high due to her genetics, or her education? Questions like that apply to all kinds of children, “it’s both. I’ve worked with children who can’t communicate, or can only do so with sign language, and they’re very clever”, Christine explains, “it’s genetic, and it has nothing to do with Down syndrome. Some people are just brighter than others”.
Art therapy is being explored more in Egypt recently. However it has long been misunderstood, “we’re not fortune tellers. I’m not going to tell you about your personality; you know that already. What you need to know are the things that you’re not aware of”, Christine says, “you learn about your subconscious. Whatever you put on a piece of paper or sculpture will give me insight on what is going on”.