What is Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring genetic condition, occurring 1 in every 691 births. Currently there are more than 400,000 individuals living with Down syndrome in the United States.  Researchers have not determined the cause of Down syndrome. We do know that Down syndrome results from having an extra, critical portion of the number 21 chromosome present in all, or some, of their cells.

This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. Down syndrome is not a disease and people do not suffer from the condition. People are born with Down syndrome and will have it their whole life regardless of their race, origin, ethnicity or economic level.

Common physical traits of Down syndrome include low muscle tone, small stature, and almond shaped eyes. Individuals with Down syndrome are all unique and possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all. Every person is a unique individual with or without Down syndrome.

There is a wide variation in the abilities, physical development and behavior of individuals with Down syndrome. Each individual has their own unique personality, capabilities and talents.  Although people with Down syndrome experience delays in physical, cognitive and language development in a mild to moderate range, it’s important to remember that IQ is NOT indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses.

Like all people the abilities and talents of individuals with Down syndrome vary widely. Today people with Down syndrome are achieving many things that were never thought possible only a decade ago.

Today, with loving homes, early intervention, advanced medical care, quality educational programs, and greater social acceptance, people with Down syndrome can live long, full and productive lives.

Increasingly people with Down syndrome are completing high school, attending college, marrying and working competitively in their communities in increasing numbers.

The future is bright for these individuals!


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