October Is Down Syndrome Awareness Month!
In October, we wear crazy mis-matched socks because chromosomes look like socks under a microscope. This makes people inquire as to why we have two different socks on. That is when we can provide them with information and bring awareness to Down Syndrome.
The Down Syndrome Association of Acadiana (DSAA) wants to inspire and reshape the way people understand and experience Down syndrome. DSAA is a non-profit organization that provides information, advocacy & support concerning all aspects of life from pre-birth to adulthood. We have a printed binders in English and Spanish that are given to the families so they can have resources at their fingertips.
We strive to have events and activities that assist in the development and skills of individuals with Down syndrome.
October 28th is when we have our annual Buddy Walk®. We have several teams that walk one mile around Downtown Lafayette for this fundraiser. We welcome you to join a team or register as an individual walker by going to www.dsaa.info and click the Buddy Walk® link. That link has our other events as well.
Down syndrome was named after the doctor who “discovered” it. His name was John Langdon Down. If his last name would have been Bernard it would be called Bernard syndrome. The D in Down is always capitalized but not the word syndrome unless it is in a title.
Down syndrome occurs 1 in 700 births.
The features are a flat bridge of the nose, small features, upward slanted eyelids, the ears are lower, short in stature and small hands. It is a condition that your child has, NOT who you child is. For example, “This is my daughter Ellie Grace.” Not, “This is my Down syndrome daughter, Ellie Grace.”
Always use the terminology “typical” never “normal.” For example, “My daughter is in a classroom with typical students.”
Down syndrome is not a disease or disorder that needs treatment.
People with Down syndrome do NOT suffer from it – just like you don’t suffer from having red hair. Down syndrome is an error in cell division where the individual ends up with 47 chromosomes rather than 46 (23 from mom and 23 from dad).
People with Down Syndrome attend school graduate, even go to college. They get married, testify in court, hold jobs, pay taxes, and live independently. They have feelings just like typical people. Their feelings get hurt just like typical people. They want friends like typical people. They want to be accepted like typical people. Individuals with Down syndrome have similar traits, but they have their own personalities and are their own unique person. The same as typical brothers & sisters or twins. Do not expect the same just because they look alike. Do not underestimate people with Down syndrome – they will surprise you! You think that they don’t understand but, they are observing everything. They can tell you exactly what is going on.
Here is an analogy that describes Down syndrome.
No one knows why Down syndrome occurs. It can be compared to what happens in nature to a field of clover. Usually, we see 3 leaves on each clover. Occasionally, we find a clover that has an extra leaf, making it a 4-leaf clover. We don’t know why mother nature decided to add that extra leaf. There is no obvious explanation for this. All the clover plants grew in the same soil, were exposed to the same sun and rain. Mother Nature just decided to add an extra leaf to one of the clovers – it just makes it different. Some people even believe it brings a person good luck when they find a 4-leaf clover. It is much the same with the extra chromosome in Down syndrome. We don’t know why the cell divided unevenly. It doesn’t make the baby better or not as good – just different.
If you are lucky enough to find one of those babies; you are truly lucky. For they are very special babies who grow in to very special people.
About The Author
My name is Molly Guidry and I live in Lafayette, LA with my husband, Walter, and daughter, Ellie Grace. I have been involved with DSAA since she was born 16 years ago and I am now the President. I like to bake, design & decorate. Ellie Grace is the light of my life and I am so glad that God chose me to be her mom. My weeks are super busy with my job and all of Ellie Grace’s activities. I wouldn’t have it any other way.