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ABOUT DOWN SYNDROME

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 FACTS ON DOWN SYNDROME

The information below has been provided by the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) -- scroll down for reference.

 

About Down Syndrome

 

Down syndrome is a chromosomal condition that occurs in one in every 691 births. It is the most frequently occurring chromosomal condition and is found in people of all races and economic levels. More than 400,000 people in the United States have Down syndrome.
 
A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Each person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all. 
 
People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer's disease, childhood leukemia and thyroid conditions. However, many of these conditions are treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives. Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades - from 25 in 1983 to 60 today. 
 
People with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses. Children with Down syndrome learn to sit, walk, talk, play, and do most other activities, only somewhat later than their peers without Down syndrome. 
 
Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care and positive support from family, friends and the community enable people with Down syndrome to lead fulfilling lives. People with Down syndrome attend school and work and contribute to society in many wonderful ways.

 

Down Syndrome Myths and Truths

 

Myth: Down syndrome is a rare chromosomal disorder.

Truth: Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition. One in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome, representing approximately 6,000 births per year. Today, more than 400,000 people in the United States have Down syndrome.

 

Myth: People with Down syndrome have a short life span.

Truth: Life expectancy for individuals with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent years - from 25 in 1983 to 60 today - with the average life expectancy approaching that of peers without Down syndrome.

 

Myth: Most children with Down syndrome are born to older parents.

Truth: Most children with Down syndrome are born to women younger than 35 years old simply because younger women have more children. However, the incidence of births of children with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother.

 

Myth: People with Down syndrome are severely "retarded."

Truth: Most people with Down syndrome have IQs that fall in the mild to moderate range of intellectual disability (formerly known as "retardation"). Children with Down syndrome fully participate in public and private educational programs. The term "retarded" is derogatory and should never be used to describe an individual with Down syndrome.

 

Myth: Most people with Down syndrome are institutionalized.

Truth: Today people with Down syndrome live at home and are active participants in the educational, vocational, social, and recreational activities of the community. They are integrated into the regular education system and take part in sports, camping, music, art programs and all the other activities of their communities. People with Down syndrome are valued members of their families and their communities, contributing to society in a variety of ways.

 

Myth: Parents will not find community support in bringing up their child with Down syndrome.

Truth: In almost every community of the United States there are parent support groups and other community organizations directly involved in providing services to families of individuals with Down syndrome.

 

Myth: Children with Down syndrome must be placed in segregated special education programs.

Truth: Children with Down syndrome have been included in regular academic classrooms in schools across the country. In some instances they are integrated into specific courses, while in other situations students are fully included in the regular classroom for all subjects. The current trend in education is for full inclusion in the social and educational life of the community. Increasingly, individuals with Down syndrome graduate from high school with regular diplomas, participate in post-secondary academic and college experiences and receive college degrees.

 

Myth: Adults with Down syndrome are unemployable.

Truth: Businesses are seeking young adults with Down syndrome for a variety of positions. They are being employed in small and medium-sized offices, by banks, corporations, nursing homes, hotels and restaurants. They work in the music and entertainment industry, in clerical positions, childcare, the sports field and the computer industry. People with Down syndrome bring enthusiasm, reliability and dedication to their jobs.

 

Myth: People with Down syndrome are always happy.

Truth: People with Down syndrome have feelings just like everyone else. They experience the full range of emotions. They respond to positive expressions of friendship and they are hurt and upset by inconsiderate behavior.

 

Myth: Adults with Down syndrome are unable to form close interpersonal relationships leading to marriage.

Truth: People with Down syndrome date, socialize, form ongoing relationships and marry.

 

Myth: Down syndrome can never be cured.

Truth: Research on Down syndrome is making great strides in identifying the genes on chromosome 21 that cause the characteristics of Down syndrome. Scientists now feel strongly that it will be possible to improve, correct or prevent many of the problems associated with Down syndrome in the future.

 

Preferred Language Guide

 

Below is the proper use of language for "Down syndrome:"

  • Down vs. Down's - NDSS uses the preferred spelling, Down syndrome, rather than Down's syndrome. While Down syndrome is listed in many dictionaries with both popular spellings (with or without an "apostrophe s"), the preferred usage in the United States is Down syndrome. This is because an "apostrophe s" connotes ownership or possession. Down syndrome is named for the English physician John Langdon Down, who characterized the condition, but did not have it. The AP Stylebook recommends using "Down syndrome," as well.
  • People with Down syndrome should always be referred to as people first. Instead of "a Down syndrome child," it should be "a child with Down syndrome." Also avoid "Down's child" and describing the condition as "Down's," as in, "He has Down's."
  • Down syndrome is a condition or a syndrome, not a disease.
  • People "have" Down syndrome, they do not "suffer from" it and are not "afflicted by" it.
  • It is clinically acceptable to say "mental retardation," but you should use the more socially acceptable "intellectual disability."

 © 2013 National Down Syndrome Society. All rights reserved. The mission of the National Down Syndrome Society is to be the national advocate for the value acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. For more information call 800-221-4602 or visit www.ndss.org.

 
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