Some facts about Down Syndrome

Thursday, September 30, 2004
Down Syndrome

People with Down syndrome live with intellectual disability and communication challenges every day - but they have a lot to say. Sometimes it can be difficult to know how to act around people with Down, so here are ten things they tell us it is important for you to know:

  • They value their lives, and enjoy them when they are well supported by their families and community - like everyone else.
  • They have one extra chromosome (no. 21) but the regular 46 are there too. They are as alike and as different from each other as everyone else. Each person will look more like their family than another person with Down syndrome.
  • They would like you to call them by their names, not by their disability. Down syndrome is only a part of who they are.
  • Down syndrome causes intellectual disability - it is not an illness. Some people do have health problems and they need to have the same quality health care as everyone else. Today we can expect them to live longer and healthier lives than ever before - most will live into their 50s and 60s.
  • They start to learn as babies and don't stop, as long as they have opportunities and good health. With good teaching, most can learn to read and write, for example, and learn much more than was ever thought possible in the past.
  • All people have feelings, thoughts, ideas, interests and dreams. People with Down syndrome know what they want from life - friends, relationships, work, leisure and some independence just for a start.
  • You might have some difficulty understanding what a person with Down syndrome is saying, but they are usually excellent communicators. Please listen carefully, and give them time. Their understanding is usually better than their speech. Some have a lot to say!
  • Each person has a different personality, with different likes and dislikes, just like everyone else. All have abilities, and gifts, in different areas. They are not all the same
  • Many people with Down syndrome live interesting, fulfilling, adult lives with support. You'll find people with Down syndrome working successfully, with different support, in retail, offices, child care, hospitality and gardening to name but a few jobs.
Information kindly reproduced from the Down Syndrome NSW website.

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