What People With Down’s Syndrome Used to Be Called

Daven Hiskey January 13, 2011 39

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Before “Down’s Syndrome” was called such, people with Down’s syndrome were called “Mongolian idiots” and the syndrome itself was called “mongolism”.  This comes from the fact that people thought that Down’s syndrome individuals resembled Mongolians.  So next time you feel like offending as many people as possible, be sure and use the term “Mongolian idiot” when referring to people with Down’s syndrome.

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39 Comments »

  1. Frank January 14, 2011 at 7:42 am - Reply

    My son has Down’s Syndrome. I’ve always gone with the theory: If someone is willing to make fun or disparaging comments about anyone with a disability they have a far bigger handicap than my son…and I pity them.

  2. Chuck January 14, 2011 at 10:29 am - Reply

    “…So next time you feel like offending as many people as possible, be sure and use the term “Mongolian idiot” when referring to people with Down’s syndrome.”

    That’s gotta be the worst thing you’ve put on this page!
    I have a friend who has a daughter with Downs, I’m offended for them.
    She’s one of the sweetest kids I’ve ever meet. Her parents try very hard to treat (and have her treated) like any other child.

    Please, please retract that statement.

    ~ Chuck

    • Daven Hiskey
      Daven Hiskey January 14, 2011 at 5:41 pm - Reply

      @Chuck: I had an Uncle with Downs, who incidentally ended up dying of prostate cancer when he was in his 50s. Nobody is saying to actually go around saying that. Just interesting the terminology that people used to use, which today is wildly offensive, hence “next time you feel like offending as many people as possible”.

  3. Leslie January 26, 2011 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    It’s actually Down Syndrome … there is no possessive (‘s), and we should all be grateful that most people today are secure enough to embrace others who may be different than they are.

    • Daven Hiskey
      Daven Hiskey January 27, 2011 at 5:10 am - Reply

      @Leslie: It depends on where you are from as to whether it includes the possessive “‘s” on the end or not. Both are generally accepted, though in the U.S. “Down Syndrome” is generally preferred whereas in the U.K. “Down’s Syndrome” is the preferred convention.

  4. Laya February 5, 2011 at 6:11 am - Reply

    I don’t think the writer of this post meant to offend anyone.
    It’s just one of those things that should be left unsaid. I
    think they were just saying it’s very offensive. I highly doubt
    that it was a dig on people who have a disability of any sort.
    As someone with another in you’re family don’t let people who
    judge see you lose your cool over their stupidity. They are
    the ones who are uneducated in those sorts of things. I have
    a wonderful family member with a disability but the best thing
    for anyone to do is not identify that person as their disability
    they are a person first. Also I work for an amazing company that
    provides care and helps them to do fun things and work =] I love it.

  5. Laura February 8, 2011 at 10:03 pm - Reply

    The word is mongoloid not mongolian. Nowadays the correct term is physically and mentally challenged. I have worked with the physically and mentally challenged citizens for many many years now. Those of you who would make fun of them need to go one on one with them some day. You would find them sweet, caring and loving. They can and do learn. They eat, breath and sleep just like “regular people do”. THEY ARE PEOPLE TOO!

  6. Mongo February 14, 2011 at 11:12 am - Reply

    I live workin with the retards, those goofy bastards make my day.

  7. moran February 14, 2011 at 11:13 am - Reply

    yea….people needs to grow up seriously.

  8. beverley February 20, 2011 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    I agree with Laya, I remember as a little girl Down syndrome children were called Mongals it just was a very politicly incorrect time, also the ‘N’ word was used very freely for the colour of anything brown ! Thank goodness times have changed and the world has grown up.

  9. Steve March 2, 2011 at 10:59 am - Reply

    “I’m offended for them.”

    That REALLY annoys me when people are offended “for other people”. Like the white guy who decides something is racist when no black person does.

    Back on topic… I taught a boy with Down’s and he was awesome. He was not academically brilliant, but he had a wicked sense of humour :)

  10. Issa March 7, 2011 at 11:35 pm - Reply

    I have a sister with down syndrome and she is the most amazing HUMAN BEING that has ever been in my life! People with Down Syndrome are the ones who don’t judge or ever discriminate. They are accepting of every race, color, or physical condition. Those who are ignorant are the ones calling them Mongolians or what-not. Maybe if we were all accepting of eachother this world wouldn’t be as corrupt and bad like it is. Down syndrome people are not what people like to call “normal” but should because just like everyone else, since truly there is no exact definition of a “normal human being” in the dictionary. Down syndrome people have two eyes, two legs, two ears, a nose, two arms, and a gender just like the rest of us “normal” humans. Think before you say or post anything like this because life is full of surprises and you never what is going to happen tomorrow. I sure can say that anyone with an immediate family member with down syndrome is blessed to the greatest extent because they will always make your day in their own innocent ways!

  11. James March 8, 2011 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    I don’t think we should be too high and mighty about this. Sure back in the day people were insensitive of disabilities. However today most Down Syndrome babies get aborted.

  12. Sam March 8, 2011 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    Where you getting this mongolian idiot thing from?

    Mongoloid* is the correct term

    &Yea, hella people used to say that haha

  13. canis March 8, 2011 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    Stop sticking up for your faulty DNA by saying anyone who makes fun of people with extra parts has a ‘bigger disability’. You’re not sacred, you spit in the face of natural selection. Human or not, they are defective. Anyone who is all ‘OMFG I AM ASHAMED OF YOU FOR MAKING FUN OF BLAH BLAH BLAH- -”, hey your stumbleupon gave you this for a reason. Anyone responding to this comment o’ mine beginning with “Wow…” needs to STFU.

  14. Gwen March 8, 2011 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    I love how people are being offended by this post. You didn’t say that intending to offend people, you said that to tell others how to offend people. :D

  15. Hoeby March 10, 2011 at 9:37 am - Reply

    Well as it was posted under “Today I found out” and “FACT”. I am glad certain people commenting have at least corrected this. It was Mongoloid and not Mongolian Idiot. The person posting this has shown at the very least his ignorance and yes probably his prejudice. Not being all high and mighty here but those are the facts. IMHO

    • Daven Hiskey
      Daven Hiskey March 10, 2011 at 11:51 am - Reply

      @Hoeby: Both were used actually, with “Mongolian Idiot” being the official medical diagnosis at one point. See comment to audrey for details.

  16. Audrey March 10, 2011 at 10:27 am - Reply

    Er, they were called mongoloids dude. Not ‘mongolian idiots’. And it was in my lifetime…and I’m only 30. Sheesh.

    • Daven Hiskey
      Daven Hiskey March 10, 2011 at 11:48 am - Reply

      @audrey: It was both actually. Mongolian idiot was the official medical name for the syndrome at one point (idiot originally being a medical term) and mongolism was another accepted term: “The doubly offensive term “Mongolian idiot,” which in the 19th and early 20th centuries was an actual, literal diagnosis, derives from people’s belief that individuals with Down syndrome – with their wide set eyes and round faces – resembled Mongolians. In fact, before the British physician J.H.L. Down (1828 – 1896) lent his name to the chromosomal syndrome, Down syndrome was known merely as “mongolism.”" -From the book: What’s the Difference by mental_floss

  17. Al March 10, 2011 at 10:46 am - Reply

    “WOW” I didnt find the original post offensive, but I do find the post by ‘canis’ HIGHLY offensive. Why do people trawl these comments looking for opportunities to p* people off?
    Or are you actually nuts, and hence a Darwinian anomaly yourself?

  18. Jusin Cocks March 10, 2011 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    Yo, bitches! Who Gives A F… about what anyone prints or says. If this is all that makes you “upset” then you need to get yourself into the real world of suffering, live in Lybia or one of the Stans and then see if any of this bull shit means anything, when just staying alive is a daily task. Man you people have life so easy. Its like the dicks with their “lifestyle choices”, “oh I’m a veggie” etc, get real, do you know how lucky you are to have the life that allows you to wallow in this self pleasing lifestyle choice bullshit while most of the world struggle and starve and die in pain….Bitches!.

  19. Barb Walker March 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    never heard mongolian idiots but i heard them being caled mongaloids which peeves me to no end

  20. Racist Reggie March 14, 2011 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    Retar… Er I mean down syndromed people are not Human they have diffrent DNA and there are people called Dwarfs they arn’t Human some part in their DNA stops them growing at a young age ant then there are midgets…

  21. Mr. Briggs March 15, 2011 at 8:24 am - Reply

    @canis: Wow…

    I shall STFU now.

  22. doctor ziudberg March 15, 2011 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    Ya’ll laughed at ethnic jokes one timeor another. anyone or anything dealt a bad hand of cards make for great comedy. Ding fries are done.

  23. Paul March 16, 2011 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    Still called Mongoloids today! No news here.

  24. Joe O'Bobson March 28, 2011 at 1:35 am - Reply

    “Mongoloid idiocy” was so named because the trisomy at chromosome 21 that causes down has certain characteristics that are phenotypically observable. Those two are the hand crease in the palm, and what are known as Mongoloid (or Mongolian) eye folds. That’s where the top eyelid sort of covers the outside corner of the eye, folded over. That eye fold is also common in Mongolian ethnic groups.

  25. All The Worlds A Stage April 4, 2011 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    OH HOW DARE YOU!? I KNOW SOMEONE OR HAVE A CHILD THAT IS.. Bla BLa Bla

    Cry a fucking river already. You need a tissue? Your pathetic lil feelings got hurt? poor babies :(

    Poor lil mongo. All getting made fun of. He should just be happy he didn’t end up in a potato sack loaded with rocks at the bottom of a river.

    The providing of care and support for those that nature decided to “phase out” via natural selection should be a crime. You are doing nothing but damaging the genetic futures of our species.

    If they are “special needs” they were not intended to survive.

  26. james April 23, 2011 at 11:47 pm - Reply

    LOL, I always thought the term was mongoloid. like corky on that show back in the day. Either way, shit happens suck it up and stop being pussies about every little thing that offends you. i’m sure the mongoloids dont fucking care so why should you.

  27. john May 25, 2011 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    This is like the equivalent of calling a little person a midget..just how mad are people gonna get?

    Also i wonder if the term refers to the practice of head-binding(used by the mongols) because it would certainly make sense.

  28. argh! August 20, 2011 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    well.. obviously the image worked as intended, judging by the amount of people that got offended here.

  29. rebekah October 27, 2011 at 10:02 am - Reply

    you know what?, to everyone who is insulting people with down syndrome just go grow a pair. if you can. & to prevent pissing me off any further just get the HELL OFF THIS WEB SITE! OR JUMP OFF A CLIFF!. MY LITTLE SIS HAS DS & SHE IS THE SWEETEST PERSON I HAVE EVER SEEN! & just a foot note you dumb ass they are human .probably more human than you are.

  30. Bill July 2, 2012 at 11:03 am - Reply

    Another fact is that down’s syndrome is not common in mongoloids( especially within mongolians) comparing to europe and america. Its just Mr. Down may had racial issues. Term mongoloid came out because of the Mongolians had control over the euro-asian continent for 5-6 centuries making a modern world that we know now( according to jack weatherford: genghis khan making the modern world.) so the down’s syndrome could have chinism or chinese idiot or chinos etc. instead its reffered to the greatest nation that humanity had ever seen. At the end all this things are in the past u can do nothing about that. Instead let our kids live a normal life as possible as not insulting their human being…

  31. Nomad December 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    down`s syndrome is the most common in EU, USA and Australia. I never have seen down`s syndrome in Mongolia. Mongolians haven`t got any curious illness. Look at this list: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/mor_dow_syn-mortality-down-syndrome

    So, EU is a true medical term of DOWN SYNDROME!

  32. Someone January 17, 2013 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    I think those who don’t know people with Down syndrome used to be called “mongoloids” only because of the similar appearance (eye shape or whatever) would get an idea that mongoloid people were actually all alike them. That’d be very wrong. So we should avoid using this term.

  33. Judy 342 May 26, 2013 at 12:37 am - Reply

    I was born in the mid 1940s,and in England in the following years people with what we now call Down Syndrome were called Mongolian Idiots. Clearly that was a highly offensive term but in those days that was the norm.

  34. Glenny September 5, 2013 at 8:02 am - Reply

    First off Mongoloid IS an horrible, offensive out dated term thankgod. In Australia we say Down Syndrome, not Downs etc. A person born with DS is not a DS person, they are a person who has DS. A person with any dissability is not a defected model that doesnt deserve to be alive. Every baby deserves life dissability or not. Shame on you a few posts up saying what u said. Lastly if you call someone with DS or any other dissability the R word, Spazzo etc it just shows that you are ignorant and a pretty sad excuse for a human. :-/

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