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Friday, March 21, 2014

World Down Syndrome Day

World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is observed on 21 March. On this day, people with Down Syndrome and those who live and work with them throughout the world organize and participate in activities and events to raise public awareness and create a single global voice for advocating for the rights, inclusion and well being of people with Down syndrome.

All though it has only been officially observed by the United States since 2012 I was aware of Down Syndrome Years before this I was introduced to children with Down Syndrome. I believe my first chance of meeting children with special needs was when my mother started driving the transportation bus that them to the special school. Perhaps on first meeting I was startled because I was so young but I truly do not remember this ever happening. In fact I remember having a friendship with them like no other. It seemed they listened to me better than other friends and I always liked helping others. Many years later I had a friend who had a child with Downs. While she may have been startled at first this never stopped her from taking her young child everywhere. There were people who may have said he can not but she always said yes he can just watch. I love her spirit because of this and I know that their bond is so strong because of their love and strength. In every cell in the human body there is a nucleus, where genetic material is stored in genes.  Genes carry the codes responsible for all of our inherited traits and are grouped along rod-like structures called chromosomes.  Typically, the nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each parent. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.

When my friend Austin was born he was a very sick little boy and still struggles with health issues but every day he is there to put a smile on everyones face. A few common physical traits of Down Syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm.

Down Syndrome Fact Sheet ( ) provides an excellent overview. Below are a few facts from this fact sheet:
  • Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition; one in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome.
  • Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels.
  • Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades - from 25 in 1983 to 60 today.
  • All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses.
  • Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care, and positive support from family, friends and the community enable people with Down syndrome to realize their life aspirations and lead fulfilling lives.

For those interested in learning more about Down Syndrome, I recommend starting with wikipedia link below, as it provides an excellent starting point.
References and Links:

The Seaman Mom

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