October is National Down Syndrome Awareness month. Down Syndrome affects up to 6,000 new babies every year. It is one of the most common birth defects seen, and one of the most varied in presentation. People with Down Syndrome can be very mildly affected, or severely affected in combination with related issues including heart defects, vision trouble, and feeding problems.
Down Syndrome is most often a result of an extra chromosome. The most common form is Trisomy 21. Although Down Syndrome is more commonly found in babies born to older moms, it can affect children born to any age mom, and any race/ethnicity group.
While most people have some knowledge or awareness about Down Syndrome, there are still a lot of myths and misunderstandings out there. October is a great time to learn more and get involved, as many community groups will hold awareness events this month.
There are many local, state, and national resources for families with Down Syndrome, and these are also great resources for people looking to learn more. Many of these also provide great opportunities to get involved and to even help families affected by Down Syndrome.
By nature, children are generally very accepting of differences. They often learn fear or hesitance from adults. Programs like integrative dance classes and play groups can be very powerful, and a great way to show our kids that it is okay (and fun!) to be friends with people who are different, whether it is by color, socioeconomic status, or physical defects.