Here is why it is high-time to break myths about Down syndrome
21 March is celebrated as World Down Syndrome day. In spite of numerous awareness programs, the society has still a long way to go when it comes to having an awareness about Down syndrome. Check out some common myths about Down syndrome and why it is important for them to be busted.
The United Nations had declared 21 March as World Down Syndrome Day. This year, celebrations from across the world were low-key due to the deadly Coronavirus pandemic. But it is time to look into the discrimination faced by children with Down syndrome and their families. Lack of awareness of society makes things worse for many.
Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of Chromosome 21. This can affect the course of development and can cause other characteristics associated with Down syndrome. With right diagnosis and intervention, people can Down syndrome can lead a normal life.
In India, a land of mixed culture and myths, the misconceptions about Down syndrome are many. We still have a long way to go when it comes to creating inclusive education, proper health care and support systems for people with Down syndrome. But what needs to be looked into and made aware are the different myths associated with Down syndrome.
Here are some common myths about Down syndrome
People with Down syndrome don’t live longer– A person with Down syndrome has a normal life span, just like anyone else. Earlier, the life expectancy of people with this disability was much lower due to lack of proper health care system. Things have changed for the better today. People with Down syndrome can lead a normal life and can live up to 60 years or longer.
Children with Down syndrome are born to older parents– It is known that women who conceive and give birth after 35 years of age have various health complications. They are putting their own lives and life of their baby at risk. The Down Syndrome Federation of India conducted a study in which 80 percent of children with this disability are born to mothers who are above 35 years of age.
People with Down syndrome cannot lead an independent life– Technology has advanced a lot. Today, there are many facilities available under one roof for disabled people. There are many therapies and early intervention techniques that can be used for people with Down syndrome that will help them to lead a normal and independent life. Today, people with Down syndrome are excelling in different careers, arts and sports.
Down syndrome is mental retardation– Shockingly, even today, most people with Down syndrome are called as mentally retarded. The law clearly states that using such terms are a punishable offence. But due to lack of awareness, most people still use the term. It is high-time that people understand Down syndrome is not a mental disability.
Reactions from parents
Usha Menon, who has a daughter Anita Menon with Down syndrome says that people are starting to become more aware of the disability. Anita is a model too.
“Earlier, society thought that a person with Down syndrome was incompetent. In fact, youngsters with this disability are easier to handle and they can do things without too much pushing like how we do with regular kids. They complete tasks on time and do things from their heart”, says Usha.
Ranjini Varma has a son named Gopikrishna with Downsyndrome. Gopi is a dancer and actor too.
“Even doctors are not fully aware of Down syndrome. Once a doctor told us that my son will not live for more than 25 years of age. Even schools are unaware of the potential of people with Down syndrome. That is why even today they are stuck in doing jobs like candle and flower making, paper craft and so on. They can lead a normal life and even get married. All that they need is right counselling and guidance”, says Ranjini.
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