Today is World Down Syndrome Day. An organization called Down Syndrome International sponsors this day to raise awareness - "21 March 2012 marks the 7th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day and for the first time in 2012 this day will be officially observed by the United Nations. Each year the voice of people with Down syndrome, and those who live and work with them, grows louder.. " [Statement from their website]
Around the world there are events going on today to tell people the truth about Down Syndrome, to dispel myths and educate. Babies born with DS are treated differently around the world. Some countries accept them but too many still institutionalize them, some even let them die by denying medical care. Fortunately the tide seems to be turning and worth of people with Down Syndrome is being recognized more all the time though social media and awareness campaigns like World Down Syndrome Day.
In a time of amazing medical care, early intervention therapy, and inclusion, stereotypes of Down Syndrome that exist here and around the world are the biggest issue our DS community faces today. The incorrect view tends to be that all people with DS are the same because they share some similar issues and features. Just like everyone else, their DNA makes them individuals who have very specific personalities and looks. The myths create a world where people think they know what it means when they find out someone has a baby with Down Syndrome. They think they know that child will always live at home, not be able to speak properly, might not read, will be overweight, won't get married, and will be mentally retarded. But the reality is no one can know any more about a baby born with Down Syndrome then they know a baby without an extra chromosome. A child with Down Syndrome still has potential just like any other child has - it may just take more work and have to be achieved in a different way. So maybe a person with DS won't be a doctor but maybe they will be a medical assistant because they work so well with patients, are detail oriented and work extra hard to graduate from a degree program. Maybe a person with DS won't have children, but they might find love, get married, live a full life traveling and learning new things. Truthfully can't you say these things about any baby? We might like to think that our infants can grow up to be doctors or lawyers but in reality its just wishful thing because there is no way to know yet. Then when those kids grow up to be stay at home moms and computer programmers, we are proud of them just the same. When you have a baby with DS the doctors and book might tell you what all the things they won't be able to do but rarely do people other than parent groups tell you what they can do.
Cate is only 6 years old - these are a small taste the things she CAN do:
- Climb to the top of the biggest playground slide and go down by herself
- Go to our neighborhood elementary school in a typical kindergarten class
- Make friends with peers her age
- Make friends with any dog with in a mile radius at anytime! She also can clearly ask a stranger for permission to pet a dog then says "thank you" without any prompting.
- Read 50 sight words!!!!!
- Identify all two and three dimensional shapes
- Write her name
- Identify all basic coins and their values
- Name all the seasons and months in a year
- Tell you her full name, address, city, county, state, country, phone # and planet
- Write every letter of the alphabet, upper & lower case (and most of them are recognizable)
- Color inside the lines (when she feels like it!)
- Tell you when you are going the wrong way to get to McDonalds or Chick-Fil-A from our house, her grandparent's house, school, therapy or the babysitters house (so much for that little errand I tried to sneak in)
- Jump off the diving board, swim unassisted across our pool
- Be on a swim team
- Help empty the dishwasher
- Feed the cat
- Use her manners
- Be very stubborn and pout with the best of them
- Throw a royal tantrum when she is tired and not getting her way
- Take a Dance Class
- Pretend to be a singer
- Make strangers smile just by turning the sunshine in her smile on them
- Give hugs that brighten your day
Aren't those the exact things you'd wish for your kindergartner?
Spread the word on Down Syndrome Day because our kids CAN!!!
ps - I'd love some comments from my "virtual friends" about what your kids can do and from the one who know Cate about what your favorite thing she can do is!!