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October is Down syndrome Acceptance Month. This blog is part one of a two part series about Down syndrome! In this post we talk about what Down syndrome is and supports that may be available. Part two will highlight the lives of people with Down syndrome and how they use their voices to transform their communities and people’s lives!
Over the years we have heard a lot more about Down syndrome. According to Cleveland Clinic, most people have two copies of each of their 23 chromosomes giving them a total of 46. Someone with Down syndrome has a third copy of their 21st chromosome giving them a total of 47.
This extra chromosome leads to changes in how a person looks, how their brain works, and how their body moves. This includes differences in face shape, eye shape, mouth structure, and for some, a change in the length of arms and legs, among other things. How a person with Down syndrome's brain develops depends on how much the syndrome affects that person. Their speech and how they function and move may be different.
Different types of therapies, such as physical, speech, and occupational therapy can help improve movement and speech. A doctor can help you figure out what resources you or your loved one may need to help make life better.
As with any disability, it is important that people have a good relationship with a doctor and other members of their support team, so that they can continue to grow well in society while living their life, their way. For some, support may be less, but for others support may be more and could include a caregiver. A doctor can help arrange these services if needed.
If you or someone you know needs support, there are several great resources available.
First, you can check out the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council (PADDC) to learn about what they offer. Next, you can check out the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) for resources for providers, self advocates, and family members. ODP even has an event calendar on their website that shows events for people with disabilities in PA, and SAU1 events are always on this calendar!
The National Down Syndrome Society website is also a great resource to help empower those with Down syndrome and their families at every stage of life. For self advocates in Pennsylvania, check out the Global Down Syndrome Foundation to find Down Syndrome support in your area.