Friday, March 21, 2014

Today is World Down's Syndrome Day

Yes, today is World Down's Syndrome Day; "It's a day to raise awareness of the strengths and accomplishments of those around us who have Down syndrome. Some estimates have 400,000 Americans living with Down syndrome; 6 million worldwide."

I found some excellent information on the Global Down's Syndrome Foundation's website and am honored to share some of it with you today; you'll find a complete list of misconceptions and reality at this link.

Misconception: Only older parents have children with Down syndrome.
Reality: According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research, about 80% of children who have Down syndrome are born to women younger than 35. The CDC research shows the chances of having a baby with Down syndrome does increase with age. However, younger women have more babies, so more children with Down syndrome are born to younger mothers.

Chase Perry Bike CampMisconception: People who have Down syndrome cannot walk or play sports.

Reality: An inability to walk is not a characteristic of Down syndrome. However, getting early physical therapy to ensure proper walking is important and builds the foundation for sports aptitude. The Global Down Syndrome Foundation provides sports opportunities through the “Dare to Play” camps. Individuals with Down syndrome have a variety of athletic abilities and levels of agility, in the same way typical people do. All over the world, there are sports teams which include people with Down syndrome including through Special Olympics.

Misconception: People with Down syndrome can’t read or write.

Reality: The majority of children with Down syndrome can learn to read and write. Research shows teaching reading to children with disabilities, including those with Down syndrome, is most effective when teachers are well trained, have high expectations of their students, and students’ progress is formally evaluated. More research is needed to determine how to most effectively teach children with Down syndrome to read and write.

Misconception: People with Down syndrome all look alike.

Reality: Many but not all people with Down syndrome share common features. For example, many but not all people with Down syndrome have almond-shaped eyes and a short stature. However, like typical people who share similar features, they look more like their families than each other.

Misconception: Adults who have Down syndrome cannot live independently or get jobs.

Reality: An increasing number of adults with Down syndrome in the U.S. are living independently with limited assistance from family members or the state. A small percentage of people with Down syndrome are able to live entirely independently. In the U.S. some students who have Down syndrome graduate from high school, and some go on to attend post-secondary education.
For people who have Down syndrome, more opportunities are available for education and employment today than ever before. Anecdotally, we know people with Down syndrome can be excellent employees and some employers have reported a higher satisfaction level among ALL workers when they have co-workers who have Down syndrome.

Misconception: People who have Down syndrome are always happy.

Reality: People with Down syndrome are more like typical people than they are different. Everyone has feelings and moods. One recent literature review of previous studies on depression and Down syndrome found people with Down syndrome are at a higher risk for depression. And there is evidence it is under-treated. Just as in the typical population, it is important adults with Down syndrome have educational, work and social opportunities, as well as adaptive life-skills.
While none of my children or grandchildren have Down's Syndrome there are families around the world who do receive the message their baby will be born with Down's Syndrome, or a diagnosis is made shortly after birth.

My daughter shared a powerful short video which answers the question moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas may have about their child/grandchild with Down's Syndrome. I'm honored to share it with you today; please take a few moments to watch it.

People with Down's Syndrome have just as much value as anyone and just like everyone else, they have so very much to offer! Take time to talk with your grandchildren about people with Down's Syndrome and help them grow up to be people who love and accept others; especially other children with extra challenges.

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