Breaking Down Common Myths About Down Syndrome

If you’ve just discovered that you have a kid with Down syndrome, any number of things could be flying through your head right now. If you have trouble sleeping at night over your child’s diagnosis, no one could blame you: the world is inundated with ideas about babies with Down syndrome that range from outdated to downright wrong. But how can you tell the facts about Down syndrome from the myths?

To help you better understand what it might mean to have a kid with Down syndrome, and to relieve some of the concerns you may be experiencing right now, keep reading.

Myth: Down Syndrome Is A Rare Disorder

Approximately 10% of the total population of the world live with a disability. That’s roughly 650 million people and in spite of the sensationalized fear parents may have for a child with a disability, many of these people lead very happy, fulfilling lives.

People with Down syndrome are no exception. Besides enjoying healthy and even normal lives like the rest of us, it’s not actually that uncommon to have a kid with Down syndrome. In fact, about one in every 700 children are born with Down syndrome, with over 400,000 people with Down syndrome in the United States alone.

In all the things parents fear for their children, isolation or being different often lies at the core. However, any child with Down syndrome is really just another kind of normal and neither you nor your child have to live without a support network. You can easily connect with other families and various groups in your community to share in the experience of loving someone with Down syndrome.

Myth: People With Down Syndrome Face Severe Mental Challenges

Perhaps one of the biggest concerns parents have for their kid with Down syndrome is that their child won’t perform well in school or enjoy a normal life. However, the truth is far better than the sensationalized myths about Down syndrome.

Contrary to popular belief, people with Down syndrome only experience mild to moderate cognitive delays — not severe mental challenges. It is not even necessary for most children with Down syndrome to be placed in special education programs. A child with Down syndrome may be given a special class or two and they might be exempt from certain courses, but they can generally keep up with other kids in their age group. Many kids with Down syndrome perform incredibly well in school and go on to excel in college.

People with Down syndrome can face some intellectual challenges, which can mean it takes them longer to understand some things, get things done, or explain something to someone else. As long as those around them are patient with them and this natural cognitive delay, they should have no trouble adapting to life and thriving, both academically and professionally.

Myth: People With Down Syndrome Cannot Live Long, Healthy, Normal Lives

Not only are people with Down syndrome capable of keeping up with their peers in school, but there’s usually nothing keeping them from enjoying fulfilling and independent adult lives. People with Down syndrome can graduate from college, get jobs, enjoy friendships and dating, and even marry and take care of their own homes. An adult with Down syndrome may rely partially on a neighboring family member or trusted friend to make sure they stay safe and healthy, but for the most part they’re capable of caring for themselves.

A person with Down syndrome may face more significant challenges than someone without the disorder, but it’s hardly more severe than a condition like ADHD or Autism spectrum disorder. Everyone faces challenges in life and everyone has their own share of setbacks and privileges. Your child with Down syndrome may not seem to have as many advantages as other children, but that doesn’t mean they have to be held back.

As long as you provide the medical care, education, support, and love that your child needs, then you have no reason to fear for their future. They may need a little more help to realize it, but they have just as much potential as any other child. And if you really believe that about them, then they will, too.

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