3/21 is world Down syndrome day. Individuals with Down syndrome have three copies of the 21st chromosome. World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is marked each year on March 21, beginning in 2006. The 21st day of March (the 3rd month of the year) was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome. 3/21 is a celebration where we are reminded what inclusion is.
Here are 6 simple steps to how to include a person with Down syndrome:
1. Person first language. Instead of referring to a person as a “Down’s kid...” please put the person before the disability and state “the person with Down syndrome”. When possible just call a person with Down syndrome by their name.
2. Often people with Down syndrome have speech delays. This does not mean that they do not understand what you are saying. Often they understand but are not always able to respond as they would like. Be patient.
3. People with Down syndrome love to play and hang out with their friends. Please feel free to say hi and start a conversation.
4. People with Down syndrome function in society much like everyone else. There are people with Down syndrome who work in hospitals, banks, as models, as teachers, who have graduated college, who work as advocates and so much more.
5. Please think before you speak. People with Down syndrome take longer to learn some things we have many educational and medical terms for this but one term has been cut from medical journals, retarded. When the word retarded is used, there are people behind it. You may not realize it when you state that something “is so retarded” or call someone a “tard” but your words are offensive and hurtful to an entire population of people.
6. People with Down syndrome have strengths and weaknesses, just like everyone else, one of their major strengths is seeing the good in others. If you are lucky enough to have a friend with Down syndrome you know what I am talking about. Plus you know how quickly their infectious smiles can turn a bad day into a good day.
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