Down Syndrome is amongst the most common genetic disorders out there. One out of 691 babies in the US is born with it. That is around 6000 births per year and despite this number, there is very little awareness of the disease amongst people. Today, there are about 400,000 people in the US who have Down Syndrome. This condition can be very trying not only for the patient, but also for their caretakers. Thus, one needs to know the right thing to say or ask if you ever happen to meet someone whose family member has this condition. Following are some misconceptions about this disorder that we will set right.
Number Six: Older mothers’ babies are most likely to be born with DS
Even though the likelihood of a baby having DS gets high with age but more babies of mothers under the age of 35, have this condition. That is simply because women of this age can have more babies. DS can occur in any age, race, culture or social group.
Number Five: Life with DS is just plain miserable
There are some medical conditions associated with Down syndrome but not every baby will have them all. They can be gastrointestinal issues, heart problems, thyroid problems, hearing and visual loss, Alzheimer’s or leukaemia. It is very rarely a severe disability.
Number Four: Down syndrome is hereditary
The only type of Down syndrome, translocation, that has a hereditary component accounts for only 3% to 4% of cases. And of those, one third cases are hereditary.
Number Three: People with DS are almost always sick
It is true that such people are at a higher risk of certain medical conditions like congenital heart problems, hearing and respiratory problems and thyroid problems. But advanced medical care has made it possible for these people to lead healthier lives.
Number Two: People with DS are always happy
These people have feelings like all of us and they experience all emotions too. Thus, they will exhibit joy and sorrow as and when required.
Number One: It is okay to use the ‘r-word’ even if you don’t really mean it
One simply cannot call someone ‘retarded’ for the purpose of being derogatory. It is hurtful and may mean that disabled people are not competent. It is best to just avoid the word altogether.