There are a lot of misconceptions about individuals with Down Syndrome. This post will point out some of the most common myths and discuss the facts.
Myth #1: Having a child with Down Syndrome is a HUGE burden on families
Fact: While it is true that an extra chromosome can bring more health concerns to keep an eye on and slight developmental delays, which can bring a few more doctor appointments and therapies, individuals with Down Syndrome have a variety of gifts and talents. Individuals with Down Syndrome have unique personalities that add to the joy in their families. These individuals benefit their families and communities with their personalities and talents. There is also a strong community of support for families of children with Down Syndrome.
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Individuals with Down Syndrome have unique personalities that add to the joy in their families.
Myth #2: Individuals with Down Syndrome have severe developmental and intellectual delays.
Fact: Individuals with Down Syndrome may have physical and cognitive delays, but they have the potential for great success in their communities when given the opportunity. IQ scores are not an adequate measurement of the abilities of an individual with Down Syndrome. They can be highly proficient in many areas that are not measured on an IQ test and when given the opportunity.
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Myth #3: All people with Down Syndrome are the same.
Fact: When our son was born, we received a piece of wisdom that has stuck with us and proven true. We were told, “The only thing someone with Down Syndrome has in common with another person with Down Syndrome is that they have an extra chromosome.” Each individual with Down Syndrome is unique, with their own strengths and weaknesses, just like you and I. They will share more physical similarities with their own families than with others with Down Syndrome. Yes, they may share some characteristics, but not all people with Down Syndrome will have all the possible characteristics.
Myth #4: People with Down Syndrome are always happy and affectionate.
Fact: Although it may be true that our son is more in tune with the needs of others and does laugh a lot, I can tell you, first hand, that he is not always happy and affectionate. He, and all individuals with Down Syndrome, experience and display a wide range of emotions, just like everyone else. They have diverse character traits and moods, just as you and I do.
Myth #5: Those with Down Syndrome are not able to live full, independent lives with meaning.
Fact: Many individuals with Down Syndrome are attending regular schools, in regular education classrooms, alongside their typically developing peers. In fact, research is showing that there are numerous benefits to those with Down Syndrome and without, including academic success, increased acceptance of differences and more, when they are taught and included alongside their typically developing peers. These individuals are also living semi-independently, going to prom, attending college, starting businesses, gaining employment at jobs that are meaningful to them, getting married, self-advocating for themselves as public speakers at various conferences and political forums, as well as living full, beautiful lives. They truly are a benefit to society when given the opportunity to be active citizens in their classrooms, workplaces and communities.
As we work together to prove these myths that surround Down Syndrome as false, we can decrease some of the fear that comes with a Down Syndrome diagnosis. When these myths are dispelled, the doors that can be opened to allow these individuals to reach their fullest potential will be innumerable.
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