What is Down syndrome?

What is Down syndrome?

  • Down syndrome is caused by an extra copy of Chromosome 21
  • Down syndrome can affect a child’s learning ability,  their physical development and can come with a range of developmental challenges
  • People with Down syndrome can experience a wide range of health issues
  • 1 in every 546 births
  • Approximately 7,000 people with Down syndrome living in Ireland
  • People with Down syndrome vary in abilities, like all people

For more in depth information about Chromosome 21 and types of Down syndrome please click here

Challenges

  • Children with Down syndrome have lots of potential, they are strong visual learners and have great social skills and like to have fun like all kids
  • But they can face a number of significant challenges and need that extra bit of help to reach their developmental milestones
  • Some common challenges include low muscle tone which can affect physical development such as crawling, walking and playing sports
  • Low muscle tone can also affect everyday skills such as feeding and dressing independently
  • Many children with Down syndrome also experience hearing difficulties which can affect communication, expressive language and speech clarity
  • Down syndrome affects a child’s learning ability and can make it harder for them to concentrate
  • Early Intervention Services are vital to giving a child with Down syndrome the right supports to learn, develop, flourish and overcome these challenges

Important things to know

The most important thing to note is that Down syndrome is just a part of someone. It does not define them. People with Down syndrome are people first and foremost and deserve the same respect and treatment that you would give any other person.

The preferred language to use when referring to someone with Down syndrome is “a person with Down syndrome” rather than “a Down syndrome person”.

Down syndrome is not a sickness or a disease, it is a genetic disorder or chromosomal anomaly that occurs at the time of conception.

Every person with Down syndrome is unique with their own talents, abilities, thoughts and interests and like everybody else they have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Children with Down syndrome can contribute greatly to their families and wider communities provided they are given the right supports, services and opportunities to enable them to reach their full potential.

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