Down Syndrome affects people of all races and economic levels.
Women aged 35 and older have an increased risk of having a child with Down Syndrome. A 35 year old woman has a 1 in 400 chance of conceiving a child with the syndrome, and this chance increases gradually to 1 in 110 by the age of 40. At age 45 the incidence becomes approximately 1 in 35.
People with Down Syndrome vary enormously in appearance, temperament and ability. Each one is a unique individual.
Children raised at home and included in all aspects of community life can best reach their potential and function in society with a greater degree of independence.
Parental love, nurturing and support, as well as early intervention programmes, education opportunities and community involvement, have a direct influence on the degree to which a person with Down Syndrome is able to achieve his/her potential.
Many people still talk about a “Down Syndrome Person”. It is essential that they are referred to as people with Down Syndrome. They are people first and foremost. The fact that they have Down Syndrome is of secondary importance.
Reactions of others..
Is important, however, that the lives of all people have the same value and that they enjoy the same rights. People react in different ways to those who have a learning difficulty.
Some avoid contact because of embarrassment. Others are over protective, insisting on helping with things they are able to do themselves.
Stereotyping and generalisations, such as “people with Down Syndrome have lovely dispositions” are not uncommon, but mean that those people are not being treated as individuals.
Down Syndrome is not a disease, so it is inaccurate to say that people suffer from it or can be treated.
People with Down Syndrome used to be described as “mentally handicapped”. Saying a person has a learning disability or learning difficulty is now considered to be more acceptable.
The majority benefit and flourish in integrated schooling. Encouragement and stimulation are also very important factors in the development of people with Down Syndrome.
It has been well documented that through integration in all aspects of society, people with Down Syndrome can reach heights that were once unattainable.