What is Down Syndrome Awareness Month? When did it begin? Read this article to learn more about Down Syndrome and why spreading awareness is essential. Also, join us as we dispel 4 common Down Syndrome myths.
What is Down Syndrome?
Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder caused during an individual's cell division, in which an extra chromosome (chromosome 21) is produced, causing the lifelong condition known as Down Syndrome. Most people have only 23 pairs of chromosomes, and an extra chromosome causes the cells to behave differently in this condition.
Some common characteristics in individuals with Down Syndrome include a distinctive face, developmental delay, and intellectual disability. At the same time, there are also more common diseases that people with Down Syndrome suffer from, such as heart and thyroid problems that could become lifelong diseases. Of course, each individual is different; therefore, each characteristic will differ from individual to individual. It is essential to note that early intervention and preventive therapies, as well as early stimulation given to people with down syndrome, will help make any negative characteristics milder, increase the quality of life for these individuals, and probably extend their life expectancy.
4 Down Syndrome Myths Busted During Awareness Month
Some myths about Down Syndrome have caused misconceptions about this condition. It's important to share information about individuals with this condition and eliminate unnecessary myths, given that myths can create a barrier to communication and acceptance of different people. Consequently, some of the most common myths about Down Syndrome are:
- People with Down Syndrome are always happy. This myth is false because all individuals feel a wide range of emotions. They can feel all human emotions in this disorder, not only happiness. So even though we often see pictures where they are always smiling, feelings for all humankind range from sadness to surprise to anger, tranquility, etc.
- People with Down Syndrome look very alike, almost the same. The truth about Down Syndrome is that they have common features in the face. Still, individuals with Down Syndrome look very different from each other because each one is a unique individual. They resemble the members of their families more than they resemble each other.
- People with Down Syndrome are not able to live independent lives. This myth is based on the fact that some individuals cannot live independently separated because of having a mental deficiency or sometimes having Down Syndrome associated with other disorders. However, many individuals can be independent, enjoy a full life, and fend for themselves, which has become a reality for many Americans.
- People with Down Syndrome live only a few years. This myth is also false, as it has been shown that with good preventive care, the average age of an individual with Down Syndrome is 60 years in the United States, with some reaching 80 years of age. Although they have lifelong health conditions, with good care and prevention and checkups, their quality of life is good, and their lifespan increases.
Down Syndrome Statistics
Some statistics on Down Syndrome are unique and surprising:
- More than 400,000 Americans live with down syndrome.
- The life expectancy in the United States for an individual with down syndrome is 60 years.
- Every year 6,000 Americans are born with Down Syndrome.
- There is no specific reason why down syndrome is caused during pregnancy, i.e., there is nothing the mother did wrong during her pregnancy because Down Syndrome happens randomly.
- Down Syndrome affects all social classes and races equally.
- By law, individuals with Down Syndrome are entitled to receive an accessible and inclusive education.
- Families who have children with Down Syndrome tend to be loving, successful, and stable families.
For this and many other reasons, we remember national down syndrome awareness month, integrating all individuals with equal opportunities, rights, and duties into society.
National Down Syndrome Awareness Month
Because of so many myths in society and the incommensurable amount of false information regarding Down syndrome, national Down Syndrome awareness month exists. This month, which is the month of October, is dedicated to making known the entire life that individuals with Down Syndrome live, seeking inclusion in all social circles, and asking the population to take it as something normal because the statistics are very high for this condition. The rejection towards them, the normalization of violence or the confinement of people living with Down Syndrome, and the negative attitudes to see them in the street, in schools, etc., have no place in a new society like ours. By building together an inclusive community, we get closer to a vision of unity and fellowship, where we are all human. Above all, celebrating Down Syndrome brings us closer to the progress of civilization.
This and many other reasons are why Nursa's team supports national down syndrome awareness month and recognizes that the healthcare personnel with whom they work are always willing to practice inclusion and treat all patients as equals.