Downs Syndrome Awareness Day
World Downs Syndrome Day is celebrated every year on the 21st March. This date has been specifically selected – 21st day of the 3rd month – due to the 3 copies of the 21st chromosome which causes Downs Syndrome. To raise awareness, people are encouraged to wear #LotsOfSocks; brightly coloured socks, long socks, printed socks, 3 socks, odd socks etc. on this day. Socks have been chosen because they look like a chromosome and people with Downs Syndrome have an extra chromosome.
What is Downs Syndrome?
Downs Syndrome is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome in a baby’s cell. In the majority of cases, Downs Syndrome is not an inherited condition. It occurs by chance at the time of conception.
How common is Downs Syndrome?
Around 1 in every 1,000 babies born will have Downs Syndrome which is around 750 babies with Downs Syndrome born each year in the U.K. The chance of having a baby with Downs Syndrome increases with the mother’s age.
What are some of the speech and language difficulties associated with Downs Syndrome?
Children with Downs Syndrome have a specific language profile of strengths and areas of weakness. Children with Downs Syndrome are often very sociable and want to communicate with others. Children with Downs Syndrome tend to have better understanding than spoken language. This means they can understand more than they are able to communicate. Children with Downs Syndrome often have speech sound difficulties making them difficult to understand.
How can I help?
· Use signs to support your spoken language. This will help a child with Downs Syndrome understand your spoken word. Using sign language alongside your talking will also give a child with Downs Syndrome another way to communicate until they start talking which helps to reduce frustration. We know that signing does not stop children learning to talk!
· Make things visual. Children with Downs Syndrome are visual learners, so use objects, pictures, gestures and facial expressions to bring your spoken language to life.
· Teach reading to support language. Children with Downs Syndrome learn to read by whole word recognition (rather than sounding out words). Supporting children with Downs Syndrome to read can actually help their talking as well.
Remember… To wear your #LotsOfSocks on 21st March to help celebrate people with Downs Syndrome and raise awareness.
Justine & Emma