Down Syndrome Awareness
October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, a chance to spread awareness. During the month of October, we celebrate people with Down syndrome and make people aware of their abilities and accomplishments. It’s not about celebrating disabilities, it’s about celebrating abilities!
Below are some tips shared by those with Down Syndrome, and by their family members and advocates:
· Use person-first language! For example, instead of "a Down syndrome child," we can say "a child with Down syndrome." Feel free to add in other adjectives that describe the person (like “awesome,” “sweet,” and “kind,” as every child should be described by their positive attributes, rather that defined by a diagnoses).
· Don’t assume that all people with Down Syndrome will have similar abilities or traits. People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer's disease, childhood leukemia and thyroid conditions. A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are: low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Every person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all. If in doubt, always assume competence.
· We are more alike than different. People with Down syndrome are active participants in educational, social and recreational activities. They are included in the typical education system and take part in sports, music, art programs and any other activities in the community. They work, participate in decisions that affect them, have meaningful relationships, vote and contribute to society in many wonderful ways. People with Down syndrome are valued members of their families and communities, and make meaningful contributions to society.
· Visit The National Down Syndrome Society website to learn more about Down Syndrome, advocacy, and participating in your local Buddy Walk (THIS Saturday in Savannah, sponsored by The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society!).