Around one in every 1000 babies born in the UK are born with Downs’ syndrome, a genetic condition that affects about 40,000 people in the country, according to the Down’s Syndrome Association.
Down’s syndrome awareness week (20-26th March) focuses on allowing people with Down’s syndrome to express themselves and be heard in their communities. In honour of the week-long event, the DSA has compiled five things the average person might not know about Down’s syndrome.
1. Down’s syndrome is a learning disability, not an illness
Down’s syndrome is not a disease. It is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome in a baby’s cells. People with Down’s syndrome are not ill and do not “suffer” from the condition, they will have a learning disability. The learning disability affects a person’s ability to learn, it does not mean they cannot learn.
2. 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.
3. Every person is unique
There are certain physical characteristics that can occur. People with Down’s syndrome can have all of them or none. A person with Down’s syndrome will always look more like his or her close family than someone else with the condition.
4. We all get emotional
People with Down’s syndrome have the same feelings and moods as everyone else. They have ups and downs and can like or dislike things and/or people.
5. Not all babies with Down’s syndrome are born to older mothers
Eighty percent 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.
6. There are employment opportunities
As long as the right support is given, people with Down’s syndrome are able to work. The DSA, launched their 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, finding the right employment opportunities, for the right people. There are currently 226 employers registered to the programme including The Environment Agency, Costa Coffee and Premier Inn.