Down syndrome is basically the diagnosis for having an extra 21st chromosome. People with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes vs 46 like everyone else. We like to say that a child with an extra chromosome is extra cute and extra special. But to go along with that extra chromosome are some extra health issues. People with Down syndrome have extra a smaller trachea and passageway... this makes having a cold, congestion, or sickness of some kind a lot harder to deal with. 50% of babies born with Down syndrome are also born with a heart defect. Some of those defects may heal themselves with time, but 50% of the babies born with a defect also need open heart surgery to repair the heart.
That extra chromosome causes learning to be more difficult. It causes low muslce tone, which makes hitting early childhood milestones harder (like crawling, walking, running). Muscle tone isnt only physical, it is also in your mouth, which makes eating, swallowing, and speech more difficult too. That is why you may notice that people with Down syndrome dont always have clear speech that you can understand. The muscles in their mouth work so much harder to try to form sounds for words. You and I can just spit out words, where a person with Down syndrome has to stop and think about what they are trying to say and work really hard at speaking.
Children with Down syndrome want to do everything that other children do, they just tend to do it at a later age, or in a delayed manner. But they learn so much from neurotypical kids, this is why “inclusion” is so important. The way I see it, why should a child be excluded from something just because they cant quite do what the other children are doing... including all kids gives everyone a learning opportunity. It gives children with Down syndrome (or any disablity) a chance to learn from the others, while the other kids get an opportunity to learn how to teach and spread kindness. Its a win-win!
Down syndrome is not scary, its perspective. As a parent of a child with Down syndrome, I hope to be able to share a new perspective of what my child, and others with Down syndrome, can do for society, rather than be looked upon as a person who is incapable. When it comes to my child, my favorite quote is “what makes you different makes you beautiful”. We don’t ever hide Down syndrome, we want to share it with the world and have others see just how worthy kids with Down syndrome can be!