October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month and so I ask you, what does it mean to be aware of Down syndrome?
Here is my list of basics you should know about Down syndrome...
1. It is a random genetic condition that usually begins at the split second of conception. It means the person has an extra copy of the 21st chromosome, and that in total they have 47 chromosomes rather than 46.
2. My children with Ds are very much like my children (and yours) without it. They develop along the same path as other people. They do all the same things as other children. They simply learn more slowly because they process and store things a little bit differently than you or me.
3. People with Down syndrome are funny, helpful, empathetic, and kind. They make great friends or caretakers. They are quite excellent with routines, and will do a job well once they have been taught what is expected.
4. People with Down syndrome have feelings, desires, and tantrums just like everybody else does.
5. They do not deserve to be the basis of the demeaning slur “retard” used whenever someone is at a loss for a synonym for stupid.
6. In many countries children with Down syndrome are abandoned to orphanages and mental institutions. They are often available for adoption, and there are many families willing to love and raise them... if only they had the funds to go get them.
7. People with Ds grow up. They become adults who want to work, get married, and be a valuable part of their community.
8. People with Down syndrome are not Down syndrome. They have it. You can have it and not BE it. They are not Down’s kids, Downsies, or Down syndrome people.
9. Most people with Down syndrome are only mildly cognitively delayed. When you meet a child like my Kimani, you should know right away that something else is going on. In her case, brain damage from meningitis. In other cases it is often delays caused by seizure damage or a dual diagnosis of Ds and autism.
10. Many people with Down syndrome have the most beautiful eyes you have ever seen.
I believe that the function of awareness is a call to action. When you become truly aware of what I told you above, you will inevitably have to make some changes.
Maybe you will be moved to donate to adoptions, or even adopt a person with Down syndrome.
Maybe you will stop using the r-word. Maybe you will stick up for people with Ds by calling out those that still do use the r-word.
Maybe you will make an effort to help your child befriend a child with Down syndrome.
Maybe you will ask your local school what they are doing to include kids with Down syndrome in regular education classes.
Maybe you will go out of your way to say “Hi” and chat with an adult that has Down syndrome who is working in your community.
Maybe you will ask your government to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the S. 1810 Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act.
Maybe you will present me with the Super Saint Mother of the Year award. Just kidding, I am only checking to see if you made it this far.
Hop on Blog Hop #1 - 10/05-10/07; the ability to add links closes on 10/07 at midnight. If you have a post that you wrote about Down syndrome this week please add it to Mr. Linky below. I look forward to reading it.
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