Down syndrome is one of the most common and well-known genetic disorders in our society. It is a chromosomal abnormality that occurs in the womb, resulting in one extra chromosome in a child. Typically humans have 46 chromosomes; children with down syndrome have 47.
Children born with Down syndrome may be mild to severely disabled, making it difficult to generalize best education practices for these individuals. But commonalities do exist. The following list outlines some typical features of Down syndrome.
- Smaller face
- Flat tongue
- Up-slanted eyes
- Hypotonia – poor muscle tone
- Vision and/or hearing problems
- Heart defects (in less than 50% of children with Down syndrome)
- Higher pain threshold coupled with difficulty in expressing where the pain is located
- Learning disabilities
- Social and emotional impairment
Despite the host of obstacles that children with Down syndrome face, most individuals can lead fulfilling and productive lives including holding down a job, having relationships, and getting a solid education.
Approximately 400,000 people in the U.S. have Down syndrome, so understanding it has become a necessity. The best way to develop a better understanding of these unique individuals begins with debunking the myths about Down syndrome.
- Myth: People who have Down syndrome don’t live long lives. The truth is that they’re actually living longer lives, almost as long as anyone else might be expected to live.
- Myth: People who have Down syndrome are genetically predisposed to having this disability. The truth is that 99% of the time children are born randomly with Down syndrome. Only a woman’s age determines susceptibility to an increased risk. Translocation determines the hereditary predisposition.
- Myth: Children with Down syndrome have extreme delays with mentally processing information. The truth is that the delays are mild and with help they can function normally.
- Myth: Adults with Down syndrome can’t work in a real job. The truth is that banks, corporations, hotels, and restaurants are just a few employers who hire adults with Down syndrome.
- Myth: Children with Down syndrome have to be in special education programs or private schools. The truth is that schools are opening their arms to students with Down syndrome and helping them achieve full inclusion as well as helping them experience college life and graduate with a degree.
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