What is Down Syndrome?

Have you ever experienced having something additional? Solve a bonus question in a test and you might receive an additional point. Order four chicken nuggets and sometimes you’ll end up with five. Ask for a baker’s dozen, and you’ll have an extra doughnut.

Most of the time, extras are wonderful! However, sometimes they can create problems. Individuals who are born with extra organs may need to have them surgically removed. Those with extra toes or fingers may not mind it so much. But what about individuals with an extra set of chromosomes? They are diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Chromosomes are small groups of genes that contain DNA and are present in every cell of our bodies. They play a role in how our bodies develop and function throughout our lives. Most people are born with 46 chromosomes, while others are born with 47. When a person has 47 chromosomes instead of 46, they are diagnosed with Down syndrome.

What are your talents? Are you good at drawing? Do you have a great singing voice? We all excel at certain things more than others. Individuals with Down syndrome also have varying levels of abilities. Some are capable of doing most things on their own, while others may find it challenging to live independently. This condition can present mental and physical challenges, such as low muscle tone and IQ. However, these challenges are often mild to moderate, and individuals with Down syndrome utilize their unique abilities to contribute to society in various ways.

We know that Down syndrome is caused by an extra chromosome. However, what causes the extra chromosome remains unknown. Scientists have been searching for the answer since Jérôme Lejeune discovered the disorder in 1959. Although the cause of the extra chromosome is unclear, we have gained significant knowledge about the disorder itself. For instance, there are three types of Down syndrome known today: Trisomy 21, Translocation Down Syndrome, and Mosaic Down Syndrome. Trisomy 21 accounts for 95% of Down syndrome cases.

Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal condition in the United States, with approximately 6,000 babies born with it each year. This equates to around one in every 700 babies. Speech and physical therapy can help individuals with Down syndrome enhance their cognitive and physical abilities.

Some individuals with Down syndrome have achieved fame! They have succeeded in industries such as fashion, film, and politics. For example, Isabelle Springmühl, a fashion designer with Down syndrome, was featured at the London Fashion Week. Actress Jamie Brewer also participated in New York Fashion Week in 2015. Another actress, Lauren Potter, appeared on the popular show Glee. She now provides advice to the White House on matters affecting people with disabilities. Actor Pablo Pineda became the first European with Down syndrome to graduate from college. Finally, Angela Bachiller became the first person with Down syndrome to hold public office in 2013.

Down syndrome presents challenges in life. However, individuals with Down syndrome also possess special gifts and abilities. As you can see, there is no reason to let Down syndrome hinder you. After all, it’s just an extra chromosome!

Try It Out

Would you like to learn more about Down syndrome? Make sure to seek assistance from a friend or family member for these activities!

Further Understanding of Chromosomes

Are you still curious about chromosomes? Take some time to explore and learn more about what chromosomes are. Afterward, try summarizing your newfound knowledge for a friend or family member. If you still have questions about chromosomes, don’t hesitate to seek answers with the help of your friend or family member.

Connecting with Students with Down Syndrome

Do you have a teacher at your school who specializes in working with students who have Down syndrome? Take a moment to jot down a list of questions that you can ask the teacher in order to learn more about this condition. Afterwards, try to arrange a meeting with them to discuss your questions. You could even ask if they could bring one of their students along so you can get to know them better!

Explaining Down Syndrome

Imagine that a friend or family member has approached you with questions about Down syndrome. Utilizing the information from this Wonder and the National Down Syndrome Society, compose a letter to them explaining what you know about this disorder.

Wonder Sources

  • https://www.ndss.org/about-down-syndrome/down-syndrome/ (accessed 04 Apr., 2019)
  • https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/downsyndrome.html (accessed 04 Apr., 2019)
  • https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/down-syndrome (accessed 04 Apr., 2019)
  • https://www.parent24.com/Family/Health/5-celebrities-with-down-syndrome-who-are-changing-the-world-20161020 (accessed 04 Apr., 2019)

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