Down Syndrome- Myth and reality
This year’s World Down Syndrome Day falls as the international community is striving to create a universal, transformative agenda for sustainable development. The links between disability, human rights and development span a wide spectrum of development issues relating to economic, social and environmental factors. Every year on this observance, we reaffirm that persons with Down syndrome are entitled to the full enjoyment of all human rights. This year, we must make every effort to ensure that the new sustainable development goals address equality and help build a life of dignity for all, including people with Down syndrome and other persons with disabilities.
Persons with Down syndrome face stigmatization, abuse and lack of support. Too often, their challenges begin early in life when they are excluded from quality education systems. Adequate access to health care, early intervention programmes and inclusive education, as well as appropriate research, are vital to the growth and development of individuals with Down syndrome.
The role of families is central to supporting persons with Down syndrome by promoting their equal status in society and empowering them to be their own advocates. At the same time, we must recognize our collective responsibility to create conditions for all persons with disabilities to make valuable contributions to our shared future. We must promote inclusive policies and raise awareness about social justice for people with Down syndrome, and do everything possible to enable them to live where they want and with whom, to form their own families, to administer their own assets and to pursue their own happiness.
Down syndrome is a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement that has been a part of the human condition throughout history, in all genders, races and along all socio-economic lines. Yet despite this, many myths and false stereotypes surrounding people with Down syndrome prevail.
On World Down Syndrome Day, celebrated annually on 21 March. All should know about a few myths and facts about Down syndrome.
Myth: Down syndrome is a rare condition.
Fact: Down syndrome, or Down's syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, is a genetic condition caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. It is the most common genetic condition, with approximately 40,000 people living with Down syndrome in Britain and one baby in every 1,000 born in the UK with the condition.
In the United States, one in every 691 babies is born with Down syndrome and there are more than 400,000 people with the condition living in the US.
Myth: People with Down syndrome do not live very long.
Fact: Today, people with the condition are living into their fifties and sixties, with a number of individuals living into their seventies and beyond. Better research and awareness of Down syndrome has increased the life span of children born with the condition.
Myth: Down syndrome is hereditary and runs in families.
Fact: The condition is only hereditary in 1% of all instances, in the other 99% it is completely random. The only known factor that increases the risk is the age of the mother (over 35). However, more babies are born with the condition to mothers under 36, because more children are born within that age group of women. Translocation is the only type of Down syndrome known to have hereditary link. Translocation accounts for 3 to 4% of all cases of Down syndrome. Of those, one third (or 1% of all cases of Down syndrome) are hereditary.
Myth: People with Down syndrome have severe developmental delays.
Fact: The majority of people with Down syndrome have cognitive delays that are mild to moderate and many children with the condition will walk, talk, read and write. Many will attend ordinary schools and lead independent lives, taking part in sports, music, art and other activities. The degree of developmental delay depends on the individual. Increasingly, individuals with Down syndrome are graduating from school and going into higher education.
Myth: Adults with Down syndrome cannot be employed.
Fact: Businesses employ individuals with the condition, yet prejudice still stands in the way – a problem which is being addressed with greater awareness of Down syndrome.
Myth: People with Down syndrome are always happy.
Fact: Individuals with the condition have the same feelings as everyone else in the population, with the full range of emotions.
Myth: Adults with Down syndrome are unable to form close, interpersonal relationships.
Fact: People with Down syndrome socialise and have the same meaningful relationships as others.
Myth: Down syndrome is a disease.
Fact: Down syndrome is not a disease. People with the condition are not unwell and do not "suffer" from the condition. The health problems associated with Down syndrome depend on the individual and can be controlled with healthcare.
Myth: People with Down syndrome all look the same.
Fact: There are certain physical characteristics that can occur in individuals with the condition. People with Down syndrome can have all of them or none – a person with the condition will always look more like their close family than someone else with the condition