Honors English IV
23 May 2018
Excelling with Down Syndrome
Each human cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, giving each of us 46 chromosomes. People with Down Syndrome have a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This extra genetic material changes development and causes characteristics identified with Down Syndrome. Having Down Syndrome also alters physical development, such as having low muscle tone, small structure, and other changes, different to each individual. Currently, there is an average of 6,000 babies in the United States born with Down Syndrome. In 1983 most people with Down Syndrome lived to the age of 25. Currently, that number has increased dramatically to the age of 60. With advancements in medical technology and improvements in the areas of education, social interaction, independent living and career choices, people with Downs Syndrome are living longer and are enjoying a better quality of life than ever before.
A baby with Downs Syndrome has a high risk of being born with a heart problem, hearing issue, or being underweight; however due to the advancement in medical technology the overall survival rate of babies with Downs Syndrome has improved over time. Being born with Down Syndrome may lead to an ” increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia and thyroid conditions” (NDSS.org). Due to the advancement in medical studies, many of these conditions are now treatable, allowing people with Down Syndrome to live healthier lives. One common issue Children with down syndrome experience are heart defects right when they are born. In the past many doctors were not able to provide heart surgery for such young children. However, as there have been changes in medical practices, correcting heart defects early on has allowed “many children with heart conditions to thrive as well as any child with Down Syndrome who is born with a normal heart” (NDSS.org). The number of Down Syndrome infants that die before one year of age has declined due to these operations. Many Babies with Down Syndrome are also commonly born underweight or prematurely. Currently, the doctors and nurses are able to provide these premature babies with the nutrients they need to survive. These niceties include The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, monitoring systems, and an Endotracheal tube or ventilator. More babies live past the age of one giving them the chance to grow and live a healthier life.
Furthermore, the therapies, medicines, and technologies have not only grown for the newborns with Down Syndrome, but also the young adults and elders living with this disability. National Down Syndrome Society has a health and well-being guidebook for people who are going through aging with down syndrome. The guidebook says: “Adults with Down syndrome experience ‘accelerated aging,’ meaning that in their 40s and 50s they experience certain conditions that are more commonly seen in elderly adults in the general population” (NDSS.org). Just like an 80-year-old adult, an adult with Down Syndrome experiences common diseases such as congenital heart defects, sleep apnea, Alzheimer’s disease, leukemia, and many more. These medical conditions become more prevalent in an adult with down syndrome’s life earlier on. When an elder adult starts experiencing signs of a medical condition they, or their caregiver, are able to recognize something is wrong. However, recognizing these signs in an adult with Down Syndrome “can be challenging against the background of pre-existing intellectual impairment” (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). Diagnosing these adults are more challenging therefore the testing process and doctors must be up to date with the latest technologies and medicine. According to the National Down Syndrome Society ” The National Institutes of Health have created a separate division, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, to provide information on alternative therapies to the general public and to begin carefully evaluating such treatments” (National Down Syndrome Society). These alternate therapies allow people living with Down Syndrome to overcome their medical conditions. By recognizing their medical condition Down Syndrome adults are able to stay active and get the treatment necessary for their diagnosis.
As Downs Syndrome children grow older they are provided with education, social interaction, and other forms of necessities to prepare them for the real world, and become less dependent on their family. Currently, there has been an increase in the amount of special needs children being educated in the local school. During elementary and middle school it is beneficial for children with special needs to be taught in the same classroom as typical children. By doing this they are able to adapt to some of the learning styles the other children use. In a recent study, it was found that “the teenagers who had been fully included in mainstream classes showed gains of more than 2 years in spoken language skills and 3 years in reading and writing ability on standardized measures” (library.down-syndrome.org). The children with Down Syndrome who are educated in mainstream classrooms gain skills socially, in speech, and in general knowledge. Not only have there been beneficial changes to the way children with Down Syndrome are being taught in public schools, but also strengthening their education beyond high school. At most schools, teens with special needs are educated at public high schools until the age of twenty-one. In the united states, there are about 250 colleges “that include students with intellectual disabilities in educational, independent living and vocational/career programs” (NDSS.org). These colleges allow young adults with mental retardations to excel by providing a variety of internships, classes, and even the opportunity to get involved with college campus life. By providing people with Down Syndrome and other special needs sensible, interactive programs they are giving the special needs community the opportunity to reach their full potential.
In addition to what was previously mentioned, the opportunities for Downs Syndrome adults have grown, and are continuing to grow, giving the Downs Syndrome community an opportunity learn to live independently and become exposed to careers. In 1990 the Americans with Disabilities law was passed. This law made it possible for people with Down Syndrome and other disabilities to become employed. Mr. David Egan wrote a guide in 2016 discussing the opportunities, challenges, and possibilities there are for employing Adults with Down Syndrome. Some of the tips in the guide include setting goals, providing a routine, and educating the other staff on the employee’s disability. Many people and organizations have created programs for special needs adults to get active in their community. The National Down Syndrome Society DSWORKS educates employers on how Down Syndrome adults are able to be apart of many workforces. This group has allowed twenty-year-old Blake Pyron to become a business owner in Sanger, Texas. The goal of the NDSS DSWORKS is to “campaign and to help other self-advocates pursue their dreams of entrepreneurship” (ndss.org). Yearly, this organization provides one Down Syndrome adult with a scholarship to start their own business. By doing this, people living with Down Syndrome stay active and involved, therefore giving them a purpose.
In conclusion, the resources provided to babies, young adults, and elders, in the Down Syndrome community, have changed the way they will live forever. With advancements in technology and medical treatments, there will be more ways to enable Down Syndrome patients to live healthier lives. By having new programs that are adapted for young adults with special needs, these students will become more educated and be able to work with the help of these recently discovered programs.
Horvath, Steve, et al. “Accelerated Epigenetic Aging in Down Syndrome.” Advances in
Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2015,
“Human Rights Organization for Individuals with Down Syndrome.” NDSS, www.ndss.org/.
National Down Syndrome Society. Personal interview. 17 Apr. 2018.
Person, et al. “Inclusive Education for Individuals with Down Syndrome.” Down Syndrome
Research and Practice, Down Syndrome Education International, 15 May 2018, library.down-syndrome.org/en-us/news-update/06/1/inclusive-education-individuals-down-syndrome/.