Down syndrome is the most significant cause of learning disabilities and the most common form of a genetic disorder in America, as per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Yet, despite its prevalence, acceptance for people with Down syndrome has been an issue of concern throughout the world. Even though we are making headways in a possibly good direction, the efforts aren’t enough.
To facilitate awareness around and acceptance of Down syndrome, the World Down Syndrome day is marked every year on 21 March. Down Syndrome Day is a global phenomenon officially observed as a global awareness day by the United Nations since 2012.
Down syndrome is a condition marked by the prevalence of an extra chromosome in an individual that causes several developmental and intellectual disabilities. The unique triplication of the extra chromosome number 21 is the reason behind the date of World Down Syndrome Day. The day provides us with the perfect opportunity to understand the meaning and implications of having Down syndrome and the need for an inclusive and empathetic space for them in society.
To help you be a part of the event, let us dive deeper into what Down syndrome is and the importance of World Down Syndrome Day.
What Is Down Syndrome?
Down syndrome is a condition characterized by the presence of an extra chromosome 21 in a child’s body. Typically every child is born with 46 chromosomes. However, babies with Down syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21. The scientific term for having this extra copy is called trisomy, thereby also terming Down syndrome as Trisomy 21.
The trisomy in chromosome 21 changes the child’s development, significantly impacting their learning and growth. The impact of Down syndrome can vary from individual to individual.
Physical signs of Down syndrome
The physical signs of Down syndrome include having the following:
- flattened face, especially around the nose bridge,
- short neck,
- small ears,
- almond-shaped eyes that are slanted upwards,
- a tongue that usually sticks out,
- tiny white spots on the colored part of the eye or iris,
- presence of a single line across the palm,
- small pinky fingers that are sometimes curved toward the thumb, and
- shorter height than people of similar age.
Apart from these symptoms, people with Down syndrome also have some developmental delays and learning disabilities, including the following:
- slow development of motor skills like moving, walking around, hand movement, etc.,
- slow development of expressive language, sentence formation skills, speech clarity, and grammar, and
- increased difficulty in mastering number skills.
Down syndrome is a lifelong genetic condition. However, proper professional help at the early stages of life and help children with physical and learning difficulties. Professional help is mainly directed toward helping children with Down syndrome develop their full potential and lead good lives. Occupational, speech, and physical therapy is provided to children with Down syndrome. Additionally, these children might also need extra care and support at school.
The Importance Of World Down Syndrome Day
Throughout the world, people with Down syndrome have been subjected to extreme forms of discrimination and stigma. They have been marginalized and mostly outcasted from their regular lives. The hateful treatment they are subjected to includes:
- being denied education,
- being denied proper healthcare and support,
- prohibited from taking any decision that affects their life,
- treated as an outcast, and
- being denied the basic right to practice an occupation and earn.
The World Down Syndrome is an opportunity to break down these generational barriers and stigma around the condition and advocate for the well-being of people with Down syndrome. It is a day to provide these individuals and their families with a supportive and empathetic environment. It is our chance to look beyond their diagnosis and see that they are living, breathing human beings with their own dreams, talents, abilities, and perspectives to offer to the world.
Read more: Selective Mutism Awareness Month
World Down Syndrome Day is marked yearly to celebrate the unique abilities and lives of people with Down Syndrome. It aims to spread awareness about the condition and its impact on individuals and families. Our only hope is that this post will serve as an inspiration to spread empathy and support for those living with Down syndrome and encourage us to build an inclusive society.
Apart from Down syndrome, there are many other forms of developmental disorders that affect the lives of individuals. To learn more about them, click here.
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