World Down Syndrome Day. March 21, 2022.

 

DownsyndromeDayMost of the time, Down Syndrome is not inherited. It is caused by a mistake in cell division during the early development of the foetus. The most common type is Trisomy 21 where every cell in the body has three copies of chromosome 21 instead of two. In a person without Down Syndrome, there are 46 chromosomes in the human body.

Down Syndrome is the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability, affecting approximately one in every 800 children. It is typically associated with physical growth delays, characteristic facial features, and mild to moderate intellectual disability. The average IQ of a young adult with Down Syndrome is 50, equivalent to the mental age of an 8- or 9-year-old, but this varies widely.

A person with Down Syndrome may need a little extra help to learn things, or require teaching methods different from someone without it. Early intervention programs are very important and provide opportunities to identify the best methods of teaching. Programs and therapies are available for children with Down Syndrome to assist them with their speech, learning and motor skills. Children are encouraged to participate in sports at a young age to help build muscle tone.

People with Down Syndrome want the same things as everyone else in the community – the best start in life, a good education, meaningful employment, somewhere to live and active participation in the life of the community around them.

Down Syndrome is not a disease, disorder, defect or medical condition so therefore does not require treatment, prevention, or a cure. It is inappropriate to refer to people with Down Syndrome as “afflicted with” or “suffering from” it. Life expectancy of a person with Down Syndrome continues to grow due to increases in services and supports available. As with everyone, there is no definitive number of years; many are living beyond 60 years.

With special, good and proper education about Down Syndrome, we can help to change the lives of thousands of people. The initiative, “Lots of Socks”, for WDSD 2022 focuses on acceptance of all our differences, and what makes us unique as an individual. Socks come in all shapes, sizes and designs, just like each of us. Join in the awareness campaign by wearing something people will ask you about – long socks, stripes, bright pictures or even odd socks. Then you can take the opportunity to explain, and encourage others to become involved.

Mary Pianta.
Disability Contact Coordinator. Diocese of Sandhurst.