21 Things You Should Know

October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month (#DSAM16).  During October I thought it would be fitting to print a few oldies but goodies that  focus on Down syndrome awareness and education.  This is a modified version of a previous SassySouthernGal blog – before I was TheSassySouthernGal. Worth a repeat I thought!

21 Things You Should Know (originally published October 2011)

In honor of Down Syndrome Awareness month, I would like to dedicate today to a little bit of education. This is a list of 21 things I think you should know about Down syndrome.

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  1. Each individual with Down syndrome is unique.
  2. Individuals with Down syndrome are not always happy. Some have a sweet disposition but they have the same range of feelings (glad, mad, sad, happy) as individuals who do not have Down syndrome.
  3. There are three types of Down syndrome: Trisomy 21 (nondisjunction), translocation and mosaicism.
  4.  The medical name for Down syndrome is Trisomy 21.
  5. A 3rd copy of the 21st chromosome causes Trisomy 21, the most common form of Down syndrome.
  6. Down syndrome was given the name “Down” syndrome because Dr. Langdon Down was one of the first researchers to describe the genetic condition.
  7. In the United States the correct term for Down syndrome is Down with a capital D and syndrome with a lower case s.  The D is capitalized because it is named after the person Dr. Down and that is his proper name.  It is not possessive “Down’s syndrome.”
  8. A person is a person first and has Down syndrome second. Therefore, you never call someone a Down’s child, Down’s person, etc.
  9. Down syndrome occurs at conception.
  10. You cannot catch Down syndrome. It is not a disease like the common cold.
  11. Individuals born with Down syndrome vary in their abilities and related medical issues.
  12. Almost 50 percent of babies born with Down syndrome will have some type of heart issues. These issues range from very serious requiring surgery to issues that self-correct.
  13. Another common characteristic of babies with Down syndrome is lower muscle tone. This may cause individuals with Down syndrome to take longer to learn to sit-up, crawl, or walk and may cause them to tire more easily.
  14. Most individuals with Down syndrome want to have friends and do the same kinds of things that other children/teens/adults their age want to do.
  15. With proper supports individuals with Down syndrome can and should be included in general education classes and extracurricular activities such as dance, soccer, karate, cheerleading and acting.                                                   monkey-picture
  16. Many individuals with Down syndrome are getting married.  Like the rest of the population, some do get divorced.  Some want to get married but due to outdated laws regulating supports they choose to participate in a commitment ceremony in order to protect benefits needed to live independently.
  17. Individuals with Down syndrome are living independently while others live independently with supports.  Some even own their own homes.
  18. It is outdated and disrespectful to say someone with Down syndrome is the “R-word.”  The preferred language is that a person with Down syndrome has an intellectual disability.
  19. Many individuals with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities are going to college. These programs are commonly called Post-secondary Education Programs.
  20. Individuals with Down syndrome have the same rights as all other people. They have dreams, goals and aspirations.  They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect just like everyone else.
  21. It would be great if you would get to know someone with Down syndrome!

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“Please do not prejudge the limits of our abilities, just because we happen to have a disABILITY. We need your help, encouragement and friendship to become accepted and respected contributing members of our community.” – Annie Forts, self-advocate.



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