“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for future” – John F. Kennedy
Unfortunately, that’s not how every child is treated – especially those diagnosed with Down syndrome. Discovered by French pediatrician Jerome Lejeune, the genetic disorder affects 6 million people, globally (source: Washington Post) and they require special treatment and care throughout their lifetime.
Having said that, they are no different and can easily follow a simple, regular life we all lead. So, why are they being targeted? May be, it’s the quality of life – those with Down syndrome are faced with a string of health challenges that only multiply with age – or it could be the stigma attached – the way an individual looks or conducts him/ herself socially.
Believe it or not, most of these fears, notions and doubts arise out of myths made popular by inauthentic sources, the web & at times, even poorly informed healthcare providers. On World Down Syndrome Day, March 21, let’s take a look at the real picture:
MYTH: It’s an uncommon disorder.
TRUTH: In India, it affects about one baby in every 1,150 born in India.
MYTH: It is always hereditary.
TRUTH: 1 in 100 babies inherits it from a parent.
MYTH: Most babies with Down syndrome are born to older parents.
TRUTH: The chances of delivering a child with Down syndrome increases with the mother’s age, especially post 35.
MYTH: There’s no community support for parents in raising babies with the disorder.
TRUTH: In India, there are organisations that are working quietly towards erasing the stigma towards Down syndrome by pushing out relevant information. The Down Syndrome Federation of India is one of them. Follow there website - http://www.downsyndrome.in/ - for more information and resources.
MYTH: They suffer cognitive disability.
TRUTH: They do face a challenge in that area. However, every kid is different and may possess talents & strengths that they aren’t able to express fully. All they need is time for them to show what they can really do.
MYTH: They are always ill.
TRUTH: Sure, they face a greater risk of certain health issues such as respiratory & hearing impairment, thyroid conditions, and congenital heart defects. But, if and when treated timely and carefully, they can lead healthy & full lives.
MYTH: They’re always in a happy mood.
TRUTH: They’re like us – they undergo mood changes and are capable of experience an entire range of emotions. They are able to differentiate between positive & negative behaviour types.
MYTH: They aren’t able to form relationships that culminate into marriages
TRUTH: Again, they’re like any of us. They date, marry and sometimes just prefer being friends.
MYTH: They’re unemployable.
TRUTH: They work best in environments that value the work & skill they bring to the team – music, entertainment, and sports are some of the top options for them.
The idea is to make our readers realise that we need to work as a unit on dispelling myths clouding Down syndrome so that those living with the genetic disorder are able to live freely, without having to fear judgement or scorn.
(Source: NDSS, Baby Center)