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An Uncertain Discussion (standard:other, 705 words)
Author: EutychusAdded: Jan 02 2004Views/Reads: 2264/0Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
This is not a story per se, more a conversation within a story. I have concerns regarding a Downs Syndrome character and her portrayal. Does it seem fair and/ or reasonably trustworthy?

“Good morning, Doctor Roberts,” the young woman who pushed the mail cart
through the halls of D-Code said as she entered Adrian's office. 

“Good morning, Shannon. Anything good in the mail today?” 

“Looks like internal stuff, sir,” she said and placed the rubber-banded
bundle on his desk. 

“Shannon, you don't have to call me ‘sir'. I work here too. I just
happen to have an office.” 

“I know, Adrian, but at the career center, they say we need to be
professional. It looks good for me when I am that way and then there is 
no confusion.” 

Adrian could guess the kind of confusion that Shannon wished to avoid.
He had heard rumors and seen enough reruns of Law and Order that dealt 
with supervisory personnel taking intimate advantage of some of the 
challenged help to fully understand the caution that schools were 
instilling into their Downs syndrome students. 

“I understand, and I apologize if it seemed I was asking you to be less
than professional,” he said, wondering if she would now view him 
differently, with just a hint of suspicion. But having been familiar 
with her since she was seven years old, he hoped she would know better. 
He bumped his trackball and brought the monitor back to life just as 
Shannon asked him how work was going. 

“I guess the same as always, though I've been letting it get to me more
than usual lately.” 

“I thought you were a code cruncher. Isn't that just coming up with a
list of sicknesses a person will develop for the insurance company?” 

“Yes, it's as simple and complex as that. Take a look at this,” he said
and spun the monitor around giving her a look at chromosome 21 of an 
unnamed client. 

She studied the 3-D rendering and smiled. “I know this. I have two.” 

“That's right, you do,” he said, impressed that she was that familiar
with her own condition. She knew that her situation had resulted from 
nature's dubious gift of a second chromosome 21. “But how did you know 
that this was the one you have two of?” 

“It says ‘chromozhome twenty one' right there on the screen, silly!” she
replied and laughed gently. 

“Of course. But while this person only has one, these markers here and
here indicate that he is going to develop amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
probably by the time he is forty.” 

“That is a bad one?” 

“Yes. It will probably be his cause of death unless the folks over at
N-Code make some real progress in the next several years,” he said, 
making a reference to D-Code's sister company. Both were part of the 
Serendipity Group, affectionately referred to as Serendip, a biomedical 
concern that had formed ten years after Watson and Crick had shown the 
world their curiously twisted ladder of amino acids. In the sixty years 
since, Serendip had become a major player in the mapping of human 
genetic codes. D-Code was in the business of taking apart an 
individual's genetic blueprint while N-Code ironed out the kinks found 
in that blueprint. While great strides had taken place in the treatment 
of cancer, juvenile diabetes, and a few degenerative nerve disorders 
like Tourette's Syndrome and Multiple Sclerosis, ALS was proving more 
difficult to sort out. 

“You see lots of big things in people that are not good, don't you?” 

“Yes,” he said, deciding that Shannon was speaking in terms of degree
rather than size, “and it can be a little depressing sometimes.” 

“But the big things are sometimes not so bad if the little things are
nice. Like when people have been not too nice to me and I talk to my 
mom about it, she will brush my hair and tell me things will be all 
right. Then the things the people said to me are not so bad.” 

Twenty minutes later, after moving on to a new set of problems, Adrian
found himself wondering why he seemed to learn the most important 
lessons in life from someone whose IQ would never be above eighty. 
Perhaps it was time for him to get away from this routine for a while. 
Before lunch, he put in a request for a week of his vacation. 


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