October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month. In this post we will discuss the history of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, what Down Syndrome is, and other helpful things to know about Down Syndrome.
What is Down Syndrome?
Down Syndrome is a diagnosis classified under “Trisomies”. Everyone has 23 pairs of matching chromosomes. When one of those chromosomes gets duplicated, it results in a Trisomy. “Tri” means three, and this duplication results in one of the chromosomes having three copies of itself instead of the typical pair most individuals have. This is why it’s called a Trisomy. Down Syndrome occurs when this duplication occurs on the 21st chromosome. Down Syndrome is also referred to as Trisomy 21 for this reason.
Other common Trisomies are Trisomy 18 which is referred to as Edward Syndrome, and Trisomy 13 which is known as Patau Syndrome.
Trisomy disorders can result in a wide range of birth abnormalities, along with physical and intellectual disabilities.
History of National Down Syndrome Awareness Month:
Carson Goodwin was individual born with Down Syndrome in 1979. His parents Betsy and Barton Goodwin founded the National Down Syndrome Society in 1979. Their goal and mission was to open doors of opportunity for individuals with Down Syndrome like their son Carson. They worked on many projects in the 1980s, an important one being Project Mainstream. This initiative helped get children with Down Syndrome out of their special education classrooms, and into the general education classrooms for part of each school day.
In the 1980s October became known as National Down Syndrome Awareness Month to recognize the many efforts brought forth by the National Down Syndrome Society and their ability to provide a voice, awareness, acceptance, and inclusion around people with Down Syndrome.
Facts to Know for National Down Syndrome Awareness Month:
- Down Syndrome occurs in 1 out of 691 births. It is the leading condition that affects chromosomes.
- Over 400,000 people in the United States are living with Down Syndrome.
- Down Syndrome occurs randomly and has nothing to do with what a mother did or did not do during pregnancy.
- The average life expectancy for someone with Down Syndrome in 1980 was 25 years. Today the average life expectancy is 60 years!
- Down Syndrome often causes mild to moderate intellectual disabilities, but most individuals with Down Syndrome lead meaningful and productive lives.
We hope you take the time to learn more about Down Syndrome in the Month of October. Follow individuals on social media who talk about and spread awareness for Down Syndrome.