This month we celebrate Autism Awareness. Awareness months are important, as they remind us to take action. However, we also need to educate ourselves about the facts, in order to bring about acceptance. There is no point in just knowing, acceptances require a shift in thought.
So what exactly is Autism and why acceptance?
Autism is a lifelong developmental condition and it affects how Autistics communicate and relate with people. They may also have difficulties with understanding and processing language. Some also struggle with sensory issues. Sensory difficulties may have a dramatic effect on their behaviour. Autism is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all autistic people have certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways.
Acceptance of Autism is a constant process; it calls for understanding, acknowledgement and conscious attempts to overcome intolerance of anything that is different from “normal”. Acceptance looks at unities shared and the innate strength in diversity. It says that its fine to be who you are, because that is what makes you uniquely you. Acceptance means educating yourself, and seeing the beauty of the exceptional skill set that each autistic has When true acceptance is found you will know that there is no place for labeling. Each person in this world functions differently each day, high and low and somewhere in between.
Lets make this month more than just Autism awareness, but Autism acceptance too. Let us celebrate the diversity and respect each other’s differences.
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March 21st we celebrate World Down syndrome Day. This date was chosen as it signifies the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome, which causes Down syndrome. It is a day that was declared by the United Nations General Assembly, to be observed upon and to grow awareness of Down syndrome. Raising awareness of this condition ensures that the facts are brought to light. Myths and misconceptions are dismissed and in doing that mindsets and attitudes can be changed positively.
What is Down’s syndrome?
Down syndrome is a genetic condition that causes delays in physical and intellectual development. It is important to note that each case of Down syndrome is very unique and each child diagnosed with Down syndrome has different physical and intellectual needs. Persons with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46. At conception, a baby inherits genetic information from its parents, 23 from the mother and 23 from the father. It is the extra genetic material that causes the physical features and developmental delays associated with Down syndrome. The chances of Down syndrome increase with advancing maternal age. However, interestingly enough, 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age.
For a parent there is so much unknown about the future of a child with Down syndrome. Whether they will have health complications, will they learn to do all the things typical kids do; walk, talk, read, and attend school? Will they live independently as adults, and work meaningful jobs or even marry? The reality is that early intervention and medical advances have changed the face of Down syndrome completely. Better teaching approaches are helping young people with Down syndrome achieve more, ensuring a brighter future.
Stars and advocates
Here are just few stars that have risen above their diagnosis and who advocate for Down syndrome:
Chris Burke – actor, singer, writer, and dedicated self-advocate. Well known for starring in the television series “Life goes on” His parents were told to have him institutionalized when he was born, they however decided otherwise, and raised him at home with his siblings. His talents were nurtured, and he was supported in all he did. He has also been the Goodwill Ambassador for the National Down syndrome Society since 1994.[/fullwidth_text] [fullwidth_text alt_background=”none” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”]
Jamie Brewer – an actress best known for her role in the television series “American Horror Story” She grew up with a love for all forms of art. She is first woman with Down syndrome to walk the red carpet at New York Fashion Week.[/fullwidth_text] [fullwidth_text alt_background=”none” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”]
Lauren Potter– an actress, known her for role on “Glee” President Barack Obama appointed her to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, in November 2011,where she advises the White House on related issues.[/fullwidth_text] [fullwidth_text alt_background=”none” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”]
People with Down syndrome have several challenges that they have to face, but thanks to recent advances in medical treatment and social inclusion, the life expectancy as well as the quality of life has increased significantly.
Tell us in the comments about your experiences with Down’s syndrome.