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Clinical Psychologist Deekshaa Athawani Lists 10 Points That Can Help Destigmatise Down Syndrome

An initiative that began in 2012, World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is a day that represents individuals with a chromosomal abnormality. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. People all over the world come together, organise and participate in activities and events raising awareness and create a single global voice advocating for the rights, inclusion and well being of people with Down syndrome. This year, 2021, the theme is ‘WE CONNECT’. TC46 connected with Clinical Psychologist Deekshaa Athwani, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, to learn more about Down syndrome and how we can celebrate the day. Here, she shares 10 things we need to know about individuals with Down syndrome.

1. Down syndrome is a genetic condition

Down syndrome is a genetic condition that occurs when a child is born with a full or partial, extra copy of chromosome 21. This extra chromosome alters the course of development and causes delays in the way a child develops, mentally and physically.

2. 2021’s theme ‘We Connect’ is empowering individuals with Down Syndrome

Every year Down Syndrome International decides a theme for World Down Syndrome Day. This is to spread awareness about the syndrome and the ‘call for action’. This year’s theme is WE CONNECT. The theme works towards ensuring that people with Down syndrome can connect and participate on an equal basis with others. The theme aims at empowering each one and seeking equal rights for people with Down syndrome.

3. Learn the myths & the facts

Myth – Genetic disorders can sometimes skip generations. Fact – There may be chances that you carry a recessive gene, and it is not dominant to show any physical characteristics. Myth – Not having a family history of the genetic disorder means you are safe. Fact – Many genetic disorders may occur without any known family history. Myth – Second child has lower chances to inherit the genetic disorder.

4. Textbook features and characteristic of individuals with Down syndrome

A person with Down syndrome may have the following features: – Flattened face, small nose, mouth and ears – Almond-shaped eyes (slanted upwards) – Short 5th finger (curved inwards) – Widely separated toes – Low muscle tone – Short stature

5. Put on a pair of mismatched socks to support individuals with Down syndrome

You can celebrate Down syndrome by taking the initiative to learn more about the condition, and spread awareness about it. This can be done by volunteering at the Down syndrome advocacy program. Even if you cannot volunteer, you can show your support by being kind, foster inclusion and understanding for people with Down syndrome. Put on a pair of coloured mismatched socks and show that you care.

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