21 Misconceptions About Down Syndrome That Need Correcting

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1. Only older parents have children with Down syndrome

A long-standing myth is that only older parents have children with Down syndrome. What is true is that the chances of having a baby with Down syndrome are higher for mothers 35 or older. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to mothers younger than 35 simply because that is when most women become mothers and there are many more births among women younger than 35.

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2. People with Down syndrome have debilitating mental retardation

Children with Down syndrome have the capacity to learn and attend both regular and special schools, but they may need extra help and take longer to master a subject than those who do not have the syndrome. Many individuals with Down are high-functioning.

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3. People who have Down syndrome always die young

People with Down syndrome tend to face more health problems, and generally live shorter lives than those born without the condition. The average lifespan for people in the U.S. with Down syndrome is approximately 60 years. But with care and healthy behavior, many adults with Down syndrome live even longer, and some have lived into their 80s.

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4. People who have Down syndrome cannot walk or play sports

Those with Down syndrome can both walk and play sports. In fact, some participate in the Special Olympics and also take part in the Dare to Play camps, which are sponsored by the Down Syndrome Foundation that encourages sports and other activities for children with Down syndrome.

However, it is important that parents of children with Down syndrome start them young with regular physical therapy so that they develop their gross motor skills. Due to certain physical characteristics associated with Down syndrome, the children may have hypotonia (low muscle tone), ligamentous laxity (looseness of the ligaments that causes added joint flexibility) and less overall strength. Physical therapy can help with all of those conditions.

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5. People with Down syndrome can’t go to regular public schools

This is not only not true, but in fact the federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act requires that public schools provide education for children with Down syndrome. Not only does attending public schools help children with Down syndrome develop their intellectual and social skills, but studies have shown that having children with that disability in a classroom helps with the development of other children in the classroom.