There are no organizations in Armenia that work specifically to promote and protect the rights of children with Down syndrome, Susanna Tadevosyan, head of the Bridge of Hope NGO, stated at a discussion held in Yerevan today on the occasion of World Down Syndrome Day.
“Due to the lack of these organizations, the main needs of these children and their families have been constantly downplayed in Armenia. The field of disability rights in our country focuses in general on more common issues, and there are no groups that deal with the issues of people with a specific type of disability,” Tadevosyan said.
Harutyun Balasanyan, director of the Nor Kharberd Specialized Children’s Home, stated in turn: “Parents’ initial response [to a child born with Down syndrome] is to leave the baby in the hospital. Health workers and their attitude play a crucial role in such situations, and the absence of proper psychological care and counseling can have a negative impact on the family’s. Once parents take their child with Down syndrome home, there is no chance they’ll bring him/her to an orphanage.”
Balasanyan added that there are currently 460 children in the care of various specialized homes in Armenia, 56 of whom with Down syndrome. The New Kharberd Specialized Home, in particularly, cares for 12 children with the syndrome, and the Gyumri orphanage – for 28 children.