Each year on March 21 the Down syndrome community comes alive, aiming to promote the much-needed awareness that leads to change. What change do they hope to spark, though?
Individuals with Down syndrome need to be viewed as just that—individuals. They want and deserve to be and feel valued just like everyone else. They want and have the ability to make valuable contributions to the community despite their challenges.
For respect to overtake stigma and misconceptions, though, this issue has to be stripped down to just the truth. What are the facts, then?
What Down Syndrome Is
One of the most common chromosomal conditions in the world, Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by an abnormal division of cells. Specifically, it’s the result of the production of an extra (third) copy of chromosome 21. This can lead to an array of physical, intellectual and developmental symptoms.
Physical symptoms may include:
- A flattened facial profile
- Slanted eyes
- An irregularly shaped mouth or tongue
- Poor muscle tone, which may lead to developmental delays
- Wide, short hands and short fingers
- A small head, ears, and mouth
- A short neck (often with excess skin on the back of the neck)
While not usually severe, Down syndrome often causes some degree of cognitive impairment. Intellectual symptoms include:
- A short attention span
- Delayed language or speech development
- Impulsive behavior
- Poor judgment
- Learning at a slower pace than other children in the same age bracket
Due to increased risk, certain diseases including heart and thyroid disease are also common.
Are There Any Treatment Options?
Treatment for this syndrome includes getting regular medical checkups to address any concerns as early as possible, to keep development progressing, and to render support to both the patient and family members.
Consistent medical care can help to minimize the challenges that come with this condition, especially developmental and intellectual ones. Hence, patients are able to function productively in daily life.
One of the largest remaining obstacles, then, is others who intentionally or unintentionally treat them differently. Is there a basis for such a division?
How Understanding Should Impact Your Viewpoint
The challenges and abilities of each person with this syndrome vary. Yet, none of them are defined by the things that make them stand out as different. In other words, they are not their health problems.
People with different health issues such as diabetes and asthma are not labeled by those issues. Instead, they are known for y their personalities, their character, and their values. Why should it be any different with those who have Down syndrome? It shouldn’t be!
Surely, all of the Down syndrome community would agree that there could be nothing better than being viewed and treated as equal to everyone else! How can you have a part in making that a reality?
Show Your Support!
This World Down Syndrome Day, you have the opportunity to register for Racing 3.21in support of the Inclusive Health and Sports program. What is Racing 3.21? The event allows participants to walk, run, bike, swim or move for 3.21 miles at any time, pace and place on March 21st. Why not invite family, friends or fellow advocates to join you?
If you’re unable to get moving, though, you can still make a donation to the program or show your support in another way. The important thing is that you have a part in raising the awareness that leads to respect!