I had the pleasure of attending a Down syndrome related conference over the weekend and a handful of people approached me and introduced themselves as blog/Instagram followers. It's always so nice to hear from individuals who appreciate our efforts to try to spread a positive message about Down syndrome. It also leaves me with a twinge of guilt over how infrequent the blog updates have become. So I am hereby neglecting the laundry, dishes, my husband, and this incredible book I picked up in the airport gift shop, to dedicate this post to the new friends I made last weekend.
In addition to receiving a lot of valuable information about how I can better serve Josie, Leanne, and the rest of the Down syndrome population, I had the pleasure of meeting many inspirational adults with Down syndrome. These adults were dynamic, engaging, and intelligent self-advocates who have jobs, relationships, and so much wonderful information to share about the bright futures that await young people with Down syndrome.
Did you know that in recent years IQ scores for individuals with Down syndrome have risen and continue to rise?
Because medical treatments are improving, along with therapy techniques and educational methods. I've written about how my parents' generation were the trailblazers who refused to allow their children to be institutionalized. They proudly brought their babies home and demanded that they have access to education.
Since then, therapy services have become more specialized. Physical, occupational, speech, developmental, feeding, behavioral (and the list goes on) services are offered to children at birth and are implemented on a much more frequent basis.
Educational methods have been researched and customized to the way that individuals with Down syndrome learn best. Children with Down syndrome are no longer relegated to a special education classroom in a separate wing of the school (or a separate school altogether) by default of their diagnosis. Many children with Down syndrome now spend part - if not all - of their day in the mainstream classroom with their typically developing peers. Not only does this offer the promise of a more equivalent education, but it also promotes an attitude of acceptance and inclusion among the next generation. Prior prejudice resulting from ignorance and an overall lack of exposure is subsiding.
With efforts towards inclusion the future is even more promising as tomorrow's employers will have grown up with a thorough understanding of what Down syndrome is the many positive attributes that individuals with Down syndrome possess.
Seeing vibrant, successful, and fulfilled adults with Down syndrome is so important because it demonstrates that the capability is there and it provides the incentive for those of us who are parenting the next generation to encourage our children to fulfill their greatest potential. Our children are not destined to be mentally retarded. They are not limited by the dismal walls of an institutional facility. They are unique individuals who can learn, achieve, and thrive in the world. And just like with their typically developing counterparts, children with Down syndrome will benefit most from a loving home environment, a supportive family, access to education, and the encouragement to fulfill the promise that lies within themselves.
Speaking of inspirational adults with Down syndrome, I am thrilled to announce that this lovely young lady will be paying us a visit next week so tune in because I'm going to try and get the dirt on her love life including details about a recent date she went on with a fetching young suitor!