The Faces of Down Syndrome

by Abby on March 21, 2012

World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated on the 21st day of the third month of the year
to symbolize a third copy of the 21st chromosome in Down syndrome.

When you know someone, it makes it real. Before our neighbors moved in down the street with a little boy the same age as my youngest, I didn’t know anyone with Down syndrome. It was a medical statistic, worrisome and impersonal. Now, I no longer picture lab coats and test tubes when I hear the term Down syndrome; I think of this smiley little boy who likes to climb and kick a ball and get dirty with the other neighborhood kids.

And it’s because of him that I am more aware of Down syndrome now. I noticed the kid in the Target catalog before I discovered that was a newsworthy event.

boy with Down's models for Target

I read with great interest this article in Entertainment Weekly on actors with Down syndrome, and this one in Time magazine on the troubling implications of tests that allow expectant parents to detect Down’s earlier. (You have to be a subscriber to read the whole article online.)

I got to know fellow mom and writer Kathleen Basi through her writing when she took my essay class a while back. Then I got to know her daughter, Julianna, an irrepressible 5yo, through her blog. Kate has a special talent for touching readers with her honesty and insight, and has often managed to make me chuckle and tear up in the same piece.

Here is a collection of her blog posts intended to “connect, educate and encourage people on the subject of Down syndrome,” she writes. “There’s plenty of information out there for new parents; the trouble is that most of it is impersonal and scary. I hope that this page will help to put a human face on the experience of parenting a young child with Down syndrome.” Click away, readers!

The National Down Syndrome Society’s My Great Story public awareness campaign honors the 400,000 Americans with Down syndrome by sharing inspirational stories by and about them in an online storybook. Check out the stories here, and submit your own 500-word story if you wish.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen Basi March 21, 2012 at 9:03 am

It’s lovely to know that my girl has a chance to impact the world! Thanks, Abby!


Abby March 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Thank YOU. I love the way you write about Julianna. I feel like her personality and your relationship as her mom really come across.


Brock Heasley March 21, 2012 at 11:44 am

A great post and a great call to attention. My child has special needs (though not Down’s) and I thank you, Abby.


Abby March 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Thanks, Brock. Your guest post about Cami really made an impact on me. Readers, here’s the link:


Frume Sarah March 22, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Reading what other parents have written about their experiences not only helps put a face with the disability for those unfamiliar with it, but can be a source of strength for other parents who walk a similar path.


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