Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What's in a Nickname?

During our recent hospital stay, I was having a conversation with a nurse on the medical unit where Josiah was being treated.  She was a wonderful nurse & Josiah liked her very much, as did I.  We were chuckling over Josiah's hair (it's wispy and tends to stick straight up - much like a mohawk).  She was commenting that a lot of children with Down Syndrome seem to sport a similar hairdo.  During this conversation, she admitted that the staff tends to call these kids "Doodles."  At face value, I thought 'that's kind of cute.'  Perhaps I should have left it at that.

When I returned home, I thought of that nickname and decided to look up the word "doodle."  I know it means to scribble, etc.  However, I wanted to research the word further.  Here's what I found: defines the noun as being "A figure, design, or scribble drawn or written absent-mindedly.  The informal noun means "fool or simpleton" from the German dudeltopf. defines the etymology as this: "The word doodle first appeared in the early 17th century to mean a fool or simpleton." defines the noun as "a minor work."

Perhaps, their nickname for DS kids is innocent.  This nurse readily admitted she knew not why they called the kids 'doodles.'  Perhaps the nickname has been used for decades and the newer/younger nurses have never made the effort to determine it's meaning or origin.

I'm not usually a person that focuses on "political correctness" and the like.  I certainly don't care what nicknames people use.

However, I think this is much different.  Here we have professionals using a nickname to define our children.  If the professionals use such a nickname, doesn't it merely fuel the fires of the ignorant?  90% of all DS pregnancies (that receive an early pre-natal diagnosis) result in abortion.  I firmly believe in a woman's right to choose.  However, if some of these abortions occur due to ignorance and misperception, isn't it possible that the professionals (whether they mean to or not) are contributing to societies fear and misperception of Down Syndrome?  I think it does.

Before the general public can ever change it's negative attitude about Down Syndrome, DS kids, and the parents that have chosen to give them life, I believe that nicknames like "Doodles" need to stop being used.

It's just my thought....


  1. Wow.... I know that nurse probably never meant anything negative, but HELLO??? Not very professional. I have never ever heard of such a nickname or label.

    1. I hadn't heard of it either. Again, at face value, it just sounded like a cute (harmless) nickname. Then, I looked it up. Someone, at some point, knew what it meant :(

  2. She most certainly didn't mean it in a bad way but she obviously doesn't know the true meaning of the word.. First of all . good for you for looking it up. Most people wouldn't . It does have a negative meaning and maybe the staff should be told about the meaning of the word. I would use the nickname " miracle' or 'cuddle bunny' as kids with DS are the most loving kids I've ever known..
    James has a similar experience when he was in NICU. I was told buy both the nurse's and Dr.s that James had what they have termed as Wimpy White Boy Syndrome.. Now I'm TOTALLY not Politically Correct . But If I was. I probably would have been pissed off at them for saying this. I'm sure if it was Wimpy Black boy or Wimpy Gay person or something like that. There would be a huge out cry in the media about it..
    I really feel James is anything but wimpy. And I have many thoughts about this supposed 'Syndrome' that hits 5% of the white boys born full term.
    It's a stupid nickname.. I hope you send them the definition .

    1. I agree. The nickname miracle or cuddle bunny would be cute. These derogatory nicknames have to stop. 'Doodles' they probably get away with because it sounds innocuous....until someone like me actually looks it up lol. But....wimpy white boy syndrome - WTH? That's blatantly negative! It's crazy what the 'professionals' do and say.

  3. Any nurse using the term "Whimpy white boy syndrome" should be reported to her state board of nursing for violating the ANA Nursing Code of Ethics.