Myth Busters: Down Syndrome Edition
Myth: Down syndrome is a rare disorder.
Truth: Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition. One in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome, or around 6,000 births per year. Today, there approximately 400,000 people with Down syndrome living in the United States.
Myth: Parents will not find community support in bringing up their child with Down syndrome.
Truth: In almost every community of the United States there are parent support groups and other community organizations directly involved in providing support and services to families of individuals with Down syndrome.
Myth: Having a sibling with Down syndrome will be a hardship for siblings.
Truth: Most families report that their “typical” kids are more compassionate, patient, and tolerant of all people because of their experience of having a sibling with Down syndrome. The sibling relationship is generally a typical one – full of love, occasional arguments, and just being together.
Myth: Individuals with Down syndrome are always happy.
Truth: Individuals with Down syndrome have feelings just like everyone else in the population. They respond to positive expressions of friendship and are hurt and upset by inconsiderate behavior.
Myth: Individuals with Down syndrome are stubborn.
Truth: An individual with Down syndrome may not be able to tell you how they feel or may be unable to readily change mental gears when offered new information or direction. This can lead to the false perception that they are being “stubborn.” Behavior is communication – individuals with Down syndrome typically face challenges with both receptive and expressive language. By implementing strategies to increase communication, this perceived behavior can be greatly reduced.
Myth: Individuals with Down syndrome have severe cognitive delays.
Truth: Standard IQ tests do not measure many important areas of intelligence, and you will often be surprised by the memory, insight, creativity, and cleverness of many with Down syndrome. The high rates of learning disabilities in students with Down syndrome often mask a range of abilities and talents. Clearly, educators and researchers are still discovering the full educational potential of people with Down syndrome.
Myth: Individuals with Down syndrome are always sick.
Truth: Though individuals with Down syndrome are at an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, and thyroid conditions, advances in health care and treatment of these conditions have allowed for most individuals with Down syndrome to lead healthy lives.
Myth: Individuals with Down syndrome cannot be active members of their community.
Truth: Individuals with Down syndrome are active participants in educational, social and recreational activities. They are included in the typical education system and take part in sports, music, art programs and any other activities in the community. Individuals with Down syndrome are valued members of their families and communities, and make meaningful contributions to society.
Myth: Segregated special education programs are the only option for students with Down syndrome.
Truth: Students with Down syndrome are included in typical academic classrooms in schools across the country. The current trend in education is for full inclusion in social and educational settings. Sometimes students with Down syndrome are included in specific courses, while in other situations students are fully included in the typical classroom for all subjects. Increasingly, individuals with Down syndrome graduate from high school with diplomas, and participate in postsecondary academic and college programs.
Myth: Children with Down syndrome will never grow up to be independent.
Truth: There are now many more opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome to participate in aspects of community life: education, recreation, employment, social, and family life. As the move towards community integration continues, we see more supports and services being developed that allow adults with Down syndrome to live on their own, with friends or on college campuses. Some individuals are even buying their own homes with their own money!
Myth: Adults with Down syndrome are just like children.
Truth: Adults with Down syndrome are not children, and should not be considered children. They enjoy activities and companionship with other adults, and have similar needs and feelings as their typical peers.
Myth: Adults with Down syndrome are unemployable.
Truth: Businesses are seeking young adults with Down syndrome for a variety of positions. They are being employed in small and medium sized offices, by banks, corporations, nursing homes, hotels, and restaurants. They work in the music and entertainment industry, in clerical positions, and in the computer industry. People with Down syndrome bring to their jobs enthusiasm, reliability, and dedication.
Myth: Adults with Down syndrome are unable to form meaningful relationships.
Truth: People with Down syndrome want the same things out of life as we do. They want friendships and opportunities to date and socialize. They want to form on-going relationships with other individuals with disabilities, as well as those without. Some get married and enjoy a rich family life, while some stay single and enjoy activities with friends.
To read about more Myths vs. Truths visit the National Down Syndrome Society.