On March 21, people everywhere will celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. This day is set aside to learn more about individuals living with Down Syndrome (or Trisomy 21), the contributions they’ve made to society, and bring awareness to the concerns of this special group. This year’s theme is “We Decide” to ensure that people with Down Syndrome are all included in all decisions that affect them.
I’ll be honest – I knew nothing about this day until March 19, 2012, the day my second daughter was born. She had ten fingers and toes, big brown eyes, a shocking amount of curly dark hair, and one extra chromosome. Although we had a pre-birth diagnosis, it didn’t alleviate any of the fear or uncertainty we had about raising a child with special needs. I had never even met someone with Down Syndrome before, and now I was taking home a little human who needed me to take care of her every need, even the ones I didn’t know existed yet. Scared doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings during that drive home from the hospital.
Living with Down Syndrome
Fast forward 8 years later, and my daughter is a lively, little chatterbox who loves music, dancing, and all things Frozen – just like most kids her age. And I guess that’s kind of the point of Down Syndrome Awareness Day: to highlight the fact that despite some special considerations, people with Down Syndrome want the same things we all do, and to feel as though they belong and can contribute to society in meaningful way. Just like everyone else, they want to have friends, jobs, relationships, hobbies and to experience all of the amazing things life has to offer.
Support the Down Syndrome Community
DFW has two amazing organizations that support and advocate for the Down Syndrome community. The Down Syndrome Guild of Dallas and the North Texas Down Syndrome Partnership serving Tarrant County. Both organizations have events planned for Down Syndrome Awareness Day. They also provide workshops, training and advocacy for both parents and adults with Down Syndrome. In addition, they coordinate fundraisers throughout the year, including the Buddy Walk, a nationwide initiative to support inclusion and acceptance for people with Down Syndrome.
New opportunities open up everyday for the special needs community. Texas A&M University has even started its first post secondary program for adults with intellectual disabilities to prepare them for careers and adult life. Students in the Aggie ACHIEVE program live on campus, attend classes and join campus clubs and organizations while preparing for future careers. It’s the first and only program of its kind in Texas.
Here’s how you can show support on March 21st:
Wear mismatched, wildly patterned socks, or even 3 socks to recognize the triplicate replication of the 21st chromosome that causes Down Syndrome. Check out this link to purchase the official socks for World Down Syndrome Day!
Read one of these books with your children. Odds are they have a classmate with Down Syndrome, and these books help children understand more about this genetic condition.
- We’ll Paint the Octopus Red – about bringing home a new sibling with Down Syndrome. This book really helped prepare my older daughter to be a big sister.
- Hannah’s Down Syndrome Super Powers – a young girl with Down Syndrome explains what makes her special and unique.
- 47 Strings: Tessa’s Special Code – a picture book about a young girl with Down Syndrome
- I AM CONNOR – a young boy’s perspective on living with Down Syndrome
For more information:
As for my daughter, I have no doubt that she’s going to have a place and role in her community. She splits her school day between special education and general education students, takes dance classes, and cheers her older sister on at soccer games. This year she is gets to participate in the Special Olympics. She’s an amazing little girl who charms nearly everyone she meets.