Along with the first day of spring (yay!), March 21 brings another big occasion filled with hope. It's World Down Syndrome Day, a day of global awareness. This is the ninth anniversary of WDSD, and with every passing year, we gain a better understanding of what life is like for people with this condition -- and of how much they're capable of. And to drive that point home, here is a heartwarming video response to any parent who finds out they are expecting a child with Down syndrome and wonders, "What kind of life will my child have?"
Coor Down, an Italian Down syndrome association, created this "Dear Future Mom" video after receiving an email from a pregnant woman who asked them that very question: "I'm expecting a baby. I've discovered he has Down syndrome. I'm scared: What kind of life will my child have?" What follows is a series of young people with Down syndrome telling that expecting mom, in their own words, what she can expect. Their answers are all different, but together they deliver one reassuring message: You can expect your child to live a full and happy life.
I think most of us will meet someone with Down syndrome at some point in our lives -- it's the most common chromosomal condition. One in about 700 babies in the US is born with Down syndrome, and over 400,000 currently live with it now. It's caused when a baby has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.
Forty years ago the life expectancy of a person born with Down syndrome was 25. Today it's 60. Learn more about Down syndrome from the March of Dimes.
There are several organizations that provide information on Down syndrome and support for families of children with the condition:
- National Down Syndrome Society
- National Association for Down Syndrome
- Down Syndrome Information Alliance
While it's clear that people with the condition are usually able to lead long, independent lives, research to continue improving their health and well-being is important. Down Syndrome Research Foundation does that work.
A couple more important resources: The Arc is a volunteer organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual disabilities. And National Down Syndrome Congress is an advocacy group that works "to create a national climate in which all people will recognize and embrace the value and dignity of people with Down syndrome." I think that's a goal we can all support.
Has your understanding of Down syndrome changed over the years?
Image via Coor Down/YouTube