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Their Voice: Bringing awareness to the realities of Down syndrome

By Monica Villar - | Oct 23, 2021
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This undated photo shows Melanie wearing a shirt for National Down Syndrome Awareness Month. (Courtesy Monica Villar)
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Monica Villar

My good friend Melanie loves the month of October because it is Down Syndrome Awareness Month and making people aware of Down syndrome is one of Melanie’s favorite things to do. Her second favorite thing is sharing beautiful pictures and informational clips about Down syndrome on Facebook.

Like many other people with Down syndrome, Melanie is quite happy with who she is and the accomplishments she has made. Almost every week I read about someone with Down syndrome breaking barriers. We have famous actors, models, entrepreneurs, scientists and athletes who have proven that Down syndrome is a diagnosis but not an obstacle.

In honor of Down syndrome awareness month, http://pediatricsoffranklin.com/ has listed 12 facts you may not know about Down syndrome. A few that I found interesting were, “Down syndrome is far and away the most common condition involving chromosomes, occurring approximately in one out of every 691 births. More than 400,000 people are living with Down syndrome in the United States. The most common type of Down syndrome is trisomy 21, which means an extra copy of the 21st. It is not hereditary. While incidences of Down syndrome correlate with the mother’s age, around 80% of Down syndrome babies are born to mothers under the age of 35. Nothing a parent does or does not do is known to cause Down syndrome during pregnancy — it occurs randomly. Down syndrome occurs regularly in both sexes and across socioeconomic classes.”

“With the great strides made in understanding this disorder, individuals with Down syndrome are living long, happy lives. The life expectancy for these individuals has increased from 25 years in 1980 to over 60 years today. Students with Down syndrome are now included in many classrooms across the country. In the past, special needs classes were the only option for learners with Down syndrome, but today most experts recommend full or partial inclusion in many standard classes. While individuals with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, they are often mild to moderate. Most people with Down syndrome lead fulfilling and productive lives.”

All of these things are interesting but what Melanie and many others with Down syndrome want you to know that they are proud of who they are and only focus on their abilities.

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