Today there are still many misconceptions about Down syndrome and those who have it.
This guide dispels some of these common myths.
MYTH: People with Down Syndrome have a short life span.
TRUTH: Life expectancy for individuals with Down Syndrome has increased dramatically in recent years, with the average life expectancy approaching that of peers without the condition.
Only 1% of cases of Down syndrome are hereditary
MYTH: Down Syndrome is hereditary and runs in families.
TRUTH: Down Syndrome is hereditary in approximately 1% of all instances. In the other 99% of cases Down Syndrome is completely random and the only known factor that increases the risk is the age of the mother (over 35). Translocation is the only type of Down Syndrome known to have a hereditary link, and this type accounts for 3 to 4% of all cases of Down Syndrome. Of those, one third (or 1% of all cases of Down Syndrome) are hereditary.
MYTH: Most children with Down Syndrome are born to older parents.
TRUTH: Most children with Down Syndrome are born to women younger than 35 years old simply because younger women have more children. However, the incidence of births of children with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother.
MYTH: People with Down Syndrome have severe cognitive delays.
TRUTH: Most people with Down Syndrome have cognitive delays that are mild to moderate. Educators and researchers are still discovering the full educational potential of people with Down Syndrome.
Persons with Down Syndrome can be integrated into communities
MYTH: Most people with Down Syndrome are institutionalised.
TRUTH: Today people with Down Syndrome live at home with their families and are active participants in the educational, vocational, social, and recreational activities of the community. With the right support systems in place, they can be integrated into the regular education system and take part in sports, camping, music, art programs and all the other activities of their communities.
MYTH: Adults with Down Syndrome are unemployable.
TRUTH: Around the world, adults with Down Syndrome are being employed in small- and medium-sized offices by banks, corporations, nursing homes, hotels and restaurants. They work in the music and entertainment industry, in clerical positions, childcare, the sports field and in the computer industry to name a few.
MYTH: People with Down Syndrome are always happy.
TRUTH: People with Down Syndrome have feelings just like everyone else in the population. They experience the full range of emotions. They respond to positive expressions of friendship and they are hurt and upset by inconsiderate behavior.
MYTH: Adults with Down Syndrome are unable to form close interpersonal relationships leading to marriage.
TRUTH: People with Down Syndrome socialise and have meaningful friendships. Some choose to date, form ongoing relationships and marry.
MYTH: Down Syndrome can never be cured.
TRUTH: While there is no known ‘cure’ at present, research on Down Syndrome is making great strides in identifying the genes on chromosome 21 that cause the characteristics of the condition. Scientists now feel strongly that it will be possible to improve, correct or prevent many of the problems associated with Down Syndrome in the future.