Over the last few months I have noticed a common thread in the way the media has publicized stories related to Down syndrome. That common thread is the publishing of so called facts about Down syndrome and those living with it. After reading this latest article from Fox News (see article here), I think now is as good of a time as any to help educate the media on what is myth and what is fact.
People with Down syndrome are suffering from the disorder.
– Believe it or not, people with Down syndrome are not suffering. There are certain health problems that a person with Down syndrome has a higher risk of getting that can cause suffering. So the correct statement could be that persons with Down syndrome “can” suffer from things like heart defects, Leukemia, Thyroid disorders, hearing loss and many other ailments. But…you know what…persons that don’t have Down syndrome can suffer from the same things as well. Anyone that has met Lily or seen videos/photos of her can most certainly see that our little girl is not suffering a bit:) According to research by Boston doctor Brian Skotko, nearly 99 percent of people with Down syndrome say they’re happy with their lives, and 96 percent say they like how they look, the survey found.
Down syndrome is hereditary and runs in families.
– There are actually three different types of Down syndrome:
- Trisomy 21 accounts for ninety-five percent of people with Down syndrome. A child with Trisomy 21 has three copies of chromosome 21, rather than the normal pair. Just for the record, Lily has Trisomy 21.
- Translocation Down syndrome accounts for just three to four percent of people with Down syndrome. Translocation is what people are referring to if they say that the condition is inherited, because usually one parent is a carrier. The extra #21 chromosome is present, but attached to a different chromosome in the egg or sperm.
- Mosaic Down syndrome accounts for less than one percent of all people with Down syndrome. Children born with Mosaic Down syndrome have some cells with three copies of chromosome 21 and some cells that have the usual pair which may result in fewer characteristics of Down syndrome in some cases.
The broad statement of saying all cases of Down syndrome are hereditary is a myth, but 3-4% of Down syndrome diagnosis’s are hereditary.
All persons with Down syndrome will have heart surgery at some point to correct congenital heart defects.
-This is a myth as approximately half of all infants born with Down syndrome have a heart defect. Lily unfortunately is part of this percentage as she currently has a 4mm hole in her ASD. The good news is, it is not big enough to be a concern yet, but if it increases to 6mm, then her awesome Cardiologist will go in and insert a stent to fix the hole.
Persons with Down syndrome can not complete everyday activities like you or I.
-Although a child with Down syndrome may learn skills at a different rate than children without, he/she will still be able to do most things that any young child can do, such as walking, talking, dressing and being toilet trained. Adults with Down syndrome attend school, work, participate in decisions that affect them, and contribute to society in many wonderful ways.
The chances of having a baby with Down syndrome increases with the mother’s age.
-All of the medical findings state that chances are increased with the mother’s age, but 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age.
All people with Down syndrome look the same.
A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Every person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all. Although they may share characteristics and similarities in appearance, children with Down syndrome will look more like their family members than they do one another.
People With Down Syndrome Are Always Happy
People with Down syndrome have feelings just like everyone else in the population. They respond to positive expressions of friendship and are hurt and upset by inconsiderate behavior.
Having A Sibling With Down Syndrome Will Be A Hardship For “Typical” Children In The Family
Most families report that their “typical” kids are more compassionate, patient, and tolerant of all people because of their experience of having a sibling with Down syndrome. The sibling relationship is generally a typical one – full of love, occasional arguments, and just being together.
I know there are many many more myths out there, but hopefully this is a good start to help correct some of the inconsistencies that continue to get reported across media networks and through social media. Please feel free to comment below with any additional myths that you would like to share. The first step to spreading awareness is becoming educated.