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8 Myths About Down Syndrome You Should Stop Believing In
8 Myths About Down Syndrome You Should Stop Believing In

March 21 is International Down Syndrome Day. Let us analyze the main misconceptions about this feature of development.

8 Myths About Down Syndrome You Should Stop Believing In
8 Myths About Down Syndrome You Should Stop Believing In

Myth 1. Down syndrome is a disease that needs to be treated

Down syndrome is not a disease, but a developmental feature of Facts and FAQ About Down Syndrome, associated with a set of chromosomes with which a person is born and lives his whole life. Down's disease is an outdated name for this condition that has not been used for a long time.

Chromosomes have a lot to do with how our body looks and functions. Typically, a child is born with 46 chromosomes. Children with Down syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21. It is she who in a special way affects how the body and brain of a child develops: for example, children with Down syndrome are more likely to have heart defects, decreased vision or hearing, hypothyroidism, and some blood diseases. Therefore, it is imperative that the child is supervised from birth by competent doctors.

According to the latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Down syndrome occurs in one in 700 children.

There are special guidelines for pediatricians and therapists who work with children and adults with Down syndrome.

Myth 2. Children with Down syndrome are usually born in dysfunctional families

A child with Down syndrome can be born in any family. Studies show Data and Statistics on Down Syndrome that mothers over 35 are slightly more likely to have a baby with this trait, but almost 80% of babies with Down syndrome are born to mothers younger than this age, because young women are more likely to give birth.

The exact causes of Down syndrome are unknown. Numerous studies of the National population-based estimates for major birth defects, 2010-2014 do not find a connection between it and the impact of external factors, for example, maternal alcohol abuse during pregnancy or the socio-economic status of the family.

Myth 3. People with Down syndrome are always cheerful and sociable

People with Down syndrome are very different. Some people like to sing, others like to draw, some are attracted by cars, and some are attracted by nature. Communication and social life are important to everyone, and people with Down syndrome are no exception. And of course, they have the same emotions as everyone else. They can also be sad, offended and upset.

Sometimes people with disabilities, including those with Down syndrome, are even more vulnerable than others. For example, studies show that depression occurs more often in adolescents and young adults with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities in adolescents with Down syndrome than in their typically developing peers.

Myth 4. A child with Down syndrome is always a burden for the family

There are many happy parents raising children with Down syndrome. For them, this is primarily a beloved son or daughter. Interestingly, the divorce rate in families raising such a child is below the Divorce in Families of Children With Down Syndrome: A Population-Based Study population average.

There are no developmental drugs, but there are successful skills training and family support programs that have proven effective. At the same time, society creates many difficulties for families if it is not ready to accept people with special needs and provide services that meet their needs.

Myth 5. A child with Down syndrome will not be able to become a productive member of society

An inclusive society and a loving family, the ability to have friends, communicate and learn new things, make choices and do what you love increases self-esteem and the chances of success for any person. People with Down syndrome can also live fulfilling and productive lives.

According to Down Syndrome Misconceptions vs. Reality Global Down Syndrome Foundation, with adequate support and the ability to live in a family, the average life expectancy of a person with Down syndrome exceeds 60 years. Their average IQ has increased by 20 points compared to the data of the 80s. More and more people with Down syndrome are graduating from high school, some are attending universities, and many are taking jobs and starting families.

Maria Nefedova became the first officially employed person with Down syndrome in Russia. She works as a teaching assistant at Downside Up Charitable Foundation and plays the flute in her free time.

Nikita Panichev is the only chef in Russia with Down syndrome. He works in one of the Moscow coffee houses, and also studies at the Open Art Theater: he is an accompanist and plays the piano and guitar.

Nika Kirillova is the heroine of the first video in Russia with the participation of people with special needs for Dima Bilan's song “Don't be silent”. Nika is fond of football, and last year she took part in the Baby Dior fashion show.

Myth 6. People with Down syndrome are unable to communicate with others and can be dangerous

Aggression is not common in people with Down syndrome. If they have difficulties with behavior, then they are most likely due to the peculiarities in the development of communication and speech. If such people have a way of communicating with the outside world (this can be not only speech, but also gestures, cards or an electronic device), they can perfectly adequately express their feelings, emotions and desires.

In children with Down syndrome, the acquisition of receptive language (the ability to understand what is said) and speech (the ability to pronounce words) is uneven.

The anatomical features of the structure of the speech apparatus and reduced muscle tone really complicate the development of speech, but this does not mean at all that the child does not understand what has been said or has nothing to say in response.

If the child cannot yet express his desires or protest in words, he can scream, push, stamp his feet. To correct unwanted behavior, you need to train him in acceptable ways of communication. Consistency and clear expectations, and reinforcement of positive behavior help children with Down syndrome develop social skills and behave like other children.

Research shows Augmentative and alternative communication in children with Down’s Syndrome: a systematic review that the use of gestures, cards, or electronic communication devices promotes language development and helps children with Down syndrome learn socially acceptable behaviors.

Myth 7: Typically developing children should not interact with children with Down syndrome

Most children with Down syndrome behave in the same way as their peers. In addition, the main mechanism for learning new skills and patterns of behavior is the reactions of others. Children learn what the environment reinforces. If you want your child to behave in a certain way, back up his good behavior with attention and praise.

A child with Down syndrome can successfully communicate and make friends. From early childhood, it is important for him to be surrounded by peers, because it is very difficult to acquire social skills when there are no other people around.

Scientific evidence confirms that inclusive education has a positive effect on Effects of regular versus special school placement on students with Down syndrome: A systematic review of studies for both children with Down syndrome and their typically developing classmates.

Myth 8. Children with Down Syndrome are best placed in specialized institutions with trained professionals and medical care

Living in a closed institution (orphanage or boarding school) seriously harms the development of any child. And children with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities are even more vulnerable to this negative influence than others. The family is critical to the development of a fulfilling and productive personality.

Placement in a child's home or a neuropsychiatric boarding school negatively affects the physical and cognitive development of children with Down syndrome. These are the conclusions reached by Charles Nelson, Nathan Fox and Charles Zin: scientists have been observing children in social institutions in Romania for 12 years. In 2019, the research results were published in Russian by the Naked Heart Foundation.