The month of October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month where we celebrate Down syndrome and let everyone know that individuals with Down syndrome have unique abilities and are capable of doing anything they set their minds to. To celebrate I’m sharing 31 facts. One for each day of the month. I’m sharing these facts to shout the worth of individuals with Down syndrome in hopes of changing the reaction to a Down syndrome diagnosis once and for all! Doctors see cells, heart defects, medical needs. We MUST look at dignity, worth, and hope instead! Please spread awareness by sharing these facts with your family and friends. Together we can make this world one in which we all belong and feel worthy. I was gifted this opportunity to speak up and use my voice (with grace and force) to created a space in our world for people whose voices might not always be heard. Let’s get started…
Fact #1 of 31: People with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes instead of the typical 46. How does it happen? There is an extra copy of the 21st chromosome.
Fact #2 of 31: Down syndrome is not an illness or disease (you can’t catch it), it is a genetic condition caused by the presence of an extra 21st chromosome. What else is determined by your genetic makeup? The color of your eyes, the color of your hair, or how tall you are.
Fact #3 of 31: It is Down syndrome, not Downs, and people have Down syndrome they are not Down syndrome. Don’t say, “Nichole is Downs” say, “Nichole has Down syndrome.” Down syndrome does not define individuals, it is simply a part of who they are.
Fact #4 of 31: People don’t have “mild” Down syndrome, or “severe” Down syndrome. Ability is not dependent on the condition, but rather the individual. People either have Down syndrome or they don’t. Just like people have blue eyes, or they don’t.
Fact #5 of 31: Contrary to popular belief, people with Down syndrome are not ALWAYS happy. They experience every emotion you and I do. Trust me. When Rowen doesn’t like something, he whines. When Rowen thinks something is funny, he laughs. When Rowen is frustrated, he yells. When Rowen loves something/someone, he tells us. Please be careful to generalize any emotion with a particular person or group of people. We all experience life in our own unique way!
Fact #6 of 31: Children with Down syndrome go through the same stages of development as typical children do. The difference? Compared to their peers, it often takes kids with Down syndrome longer to achieve milestones. Things like rolling over, sitting, crawling, walking, talking, etc.
Fact #7 of 31: While there are certain physical characteristics that set people with Down syndrome apart, people with Down syndrome resemble their families more than they resemble one another.
Fact #8 of 31: Babies with Down syndrome often have low muscle tone (known as Hypotonia) which is why it takes them a little longer to talk, walk, and eat some foods. This is not the same as muscle weakness. Muscle TONE is regulated by signals that travel from the brain to the nerves and tell the muscles to contract. Kiddos work extra hard to hit these milestones…which makes them even stronger in my book!
Fact #9 of 31: You will get what you expect! Just because a child has Down syndrome it does not mean they are unable to do well in school or socialize with their peers. Kids with Down syndrome are smart. Set your expectations high and have patients, they won’t disappoint!
Fact #10 of 31: There are three types of Down syndrome.
1.) T21 (or non-disjunction) is the most common. All cells have an extra chromosome.
2.) Translocation Down syndrome, when part of chromosome 21 becomes attached (translocated) onto another chromosome. Children with translocation Down syndrome have the usual two copies of chromosome 21, but they also have additional material from chromosome 21 attached to the translocated chromosome.
3.) Mosaic Down syndrome, where only some cells have an extra chromosome, but other cells in the body are typical.
Fact #11 of 31: That extra chomromse has a way of magically finding its way into your heart!
Fact #12 of 31: Not all kids/people with Down syndrome are the same. Knowing one person with Down syndrome, does not mean that the next person with Down syndrome will be the same. We are all individuals, all of us, regardless of how many chromosomes we have.
Fact #13 of 31: People with Down syndrome are beautiful!
Fact #14 of 31: People with Down syndrome can lead happy, independent, and successful lives. Become TV stars, play symphonies, learn to drive, and even climb Mount Everest! Don’t count them out!
Fact #15 of 31: Adults with Down syndrome are not “perpetual children,” they are adults, and they happen to have Down syndrome.
Fact #16 of 31: Kids with Down syndrome do best in an inclusive learning environment, and typical kids do best when they learn about diversity, kindness, and friendship at an early age. Inclusive classrooms teach and benefit ALL kids.
Fact #17 of 31: Love doesn’t count chromosomes!
Fact #18 of 31: Siblings of kids with Down syndrome are not affected negatively, on the contrary, most siblings report that their relationship is one of the greatest gifts in their lives. I can firmly attest to the love Isla has for her borhter. She tells me all the time that he’s the cutest little boy she has ever seen. She loves to play with him, make him laugh, gets on his nervers, and give him hugs and kisses. Rowen feels the exact same way. He watches her and often copies her lead. I LOVE watching their bond grow and develop.
Fact #19 of 31: Brushfield spots are common in 35-78% percent of individuals with Down syndrome. Anyone may be born with Brushfield spots, but it’s far more common in persons with Down syndrome. Brushfield spots are white spots around the iris—they look like little stars! They say that the Brushfield spots don’t affect a person’s vision but sometimes I think Rowen sees the world in a different light. Maybe it has something to do with the sparkling stars in his eyes!
Fact #20 of 31: People don’t “suffer” from Down syndrome. In a study conducted by Brian Skotko, 99% of adults with Down syndrome reported they were happy with their lives. (A negative society will affect their lives much more than an extra chromosome ever will.)
Fact #21 of 31: Down syndrome happens randomly. Like flipping a coin or winning the lottery.
Fact #22 of 31: 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age.
Fact #23 of 31: Adults with Down syndrome do not live with their parents forever. Many live independently and thrive. Some attend college and marry.
Fact #24 of 31: Kids and adults with Down syndrome are aware of how people perceive them, and they care. They get their feelings hurt, just like you and I do.
Fact #25 of 31: People with Down syndrome have hopes and dreams. They too want to make a difference in this world (and they do).
Fact #26 of 31: Soeciety wants peopel who fit neatly in molds and whent hey don’t, they create SPECAIL groups for them. We need to resist these molds and embrace the uniqueness that chromosome coutns create in our world.
Fact #27 of 31: The word “r*t*rd*d” is offensive, it hurts. People with Down syndrome deserve respect. Everyone deserves respect — don’t use this word!
Fact #28 of 31: Kids and adults with Down syndrome have much to say. They have thoughts, ideas, and enjoy meaningful conversations. Take the time to listen and be a friend to someone with Down syndrome!
Fact #29 of 31: Fifty years ago, parents were still encouraged to send their babies born with Down syndrome to mental institutions. That was not too long ago. What you see now is the hard work and determination of parents willing to fight the battle for their children, and for the many that have followed. We have come a long way. This is worth celebrating! There is still so much acceptance and awareness we must continue to spread. Countries such as the UK, Iceland, Denmark, and Holland are seeking to eradicate Down syndrome through very sensitive prenatal testing. In Iceland 100% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted – 90% in UK. People must know that someone’s right to life must not be dependent on anyone’s opinion of “normal”.
Here is an articles related to this topic if you’d like to learn more.
Fact #30 of 31: Down syndrome is the most common genetic condition. One in every 691 babies is born with Down syndrome in the United States. Down syndrome affects every race and economic group.
Fact #31 of 31: Having a child with Ds has changed my life. My life is brighter. My life is more wonderful. My life is full of joy. I am more positive. I believe in myself. I live each day to the fullest. Sometimes the things we cannot change end of changing us instead. The challenges and fears don’t hold a candle to the blessings and LOVE!
Thank you for reading and sharing. Want a list of ways to celebrate? Check out this recent blog post for ideas. Click HERE