World Down Syndrome Day: 6 facts you should know

·2-min read
People with Down’s syndrome are not ill and do not ‘suffer’ from the condition, but they will have a learning disability (philidor - Fotolia)
People with Down’s syndrome are not ill and do not ‘suffer’ from the condition, but they will have a learning disability (philidor - Fotolia)

World Down Syndrome Day is an awareness event observed annually on March 21, and has been recognised by the United Nations since 2012.

This year’s theme is With Us Not For Us, a message that organisers say is “key to a human rights-based approach to disability”.

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Around one in every 1,000 babies born in the UK is born with Down’s syndrome, a genetic condition that the Down’s Syndrome Association says affects about 40,000 people in the country.

The DSA has compiled six things the average person might not know about Down's syndrome.

Down's syndrome is a learning disability, not an illness

Down’s syndrome is not a disease. It is a congenital condition caused by the presence of an extra chromosome in a baby’s cells.

People with Down’s syndrome are not medically considered ill and do not “suffer” from the condition, but they will have a learning disability.

A learning disability affects a person’s ability to learn, but it does not mean they cannot learn.

Relationships are the same

People with Down’s syndrome are perfectly capable of forming all types of relationships with people they encounter in their lives, be it friendship, love or a dislike of someone.

Every person is unique

There are certain physical characteristics that can occur. People with Down's syndrome can have all of them or none.

We all get emotional

People with Down’s syndrome have changes in their feelings and moods, just like everyone else does. They have ups and downs and can like or dislike things and/or people.

Not all babies with Down's syndrome are born to older mothers

Eighty per cent of children with Down’s syndrome are born to women younger than 35. However, the likelihood of having a child with Down’s syndrome does increase with the age of the mother.

There are employment opportunities

As long as the right support is given, people with Down’s syndrome are able to work. The DSA launched its WorkFit programme in 2012, designed to turn the “supported employment” concept on its head.

WorkFit is a tailored service dedicated to training employers about the Down’s syndrome learning profile. It aims to find the right employment opportunities for the right people.