#SeeTheAbility #WDSD #WorldDownSyndromeDay #LotsofSocks
The scientist that discovered Down Syndrome was named John Langdon Down. So unfortunate as ‘down’ often has a negative connotation. People with Down Syndrome are anything but! I always like to do an article for World Down Syndrome Day because my brother-in-law has Down Syndrome and he is just so much better than I will ever be at so many things. He washes a car better than I can, makes his bed neater than I can and knows more about farming than I ever will! This year for World Down Syndrome Day the Canadian Down Syndrome Society encourages us to #SeeTheAbility! Well I don’t have to look far! And if you’ve ever spent time with someone with Down Syndrome I’m sure you agree. If you haven’t, you’re missing out! Make a new friend today!
#LotsofSocks is also sometimes used for Down Syndrome awareness because of the cause of the syndrome. In our cells we have chromosomes, they control exactly what a cell should do, what each part of your body looks like, they give very specific instructions to each cell, and makes us all unique. Chromosomes come in pairs, just like socks and look exactly like our striped socks. Having an extra random 3rd sock is generally not helpful, just like an extra random single chromosome. In Down Syndrome, the most common occurrence is that there is an extra chromosome on chromosome 21. It’s not a pair, it’s a pair plus a random. This is why the most common form of Down Syndrome is called Trisomy 21.
How this chromosomal abnormality presents has somethings that are fairly consistent, such as the facial features which allow most of us to easily recognise people with Down Syndrome even if we have not been educated about it, but there are other features that vary very widely. Down Syndrome produces learning and developmental delays but some may be mild, others severe. This is why #SeeTheAbility is so important in my opinion because we should allow each individual child who has Down Syndrome to actualise to the best of his/her ability. For many that means tertiary level education, careers and families, for others it may mean vocational training, for others still, reading and writing, music and dance. Too often it is assumed that those with Down Syndrome cannot live close to a “normal” life.
That being said, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge that some with Down Syndrome have it a lot harder and have cardiac defects, increased chances of diabetes, spinal instability and infections among many other things. It is important to recognise and support parents of children with Down Syndrome that have an extra workload. You are amazing! It is also important to learn from the demeanor of many children who have Down Syndrome. While it is not true that they are always happy, because they do have a full range of emotions, it is true that they are generally very warm, friendly and welcoming. They don’t judge and they are just genuinely great people. Much more than can be said for many of us who don’t have that extra troublesome chromosome.
We’ll end with a video provided by the Canadian Down Syndrome Society!
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