March 22, 2024 at 12:15 p.m.

Down Syndrome Day is March 21

Dear Editor, 

This week, on Thursday, is World Down Syndrome Day.  Down Syndrome is a condition where there is a third copy of the 21st chromosome, instead of the standard two. Thus, the date of 3-21 is chosen to raise awareness of this syndrome, also known as Trisomy 21.

My husband and I have extra special reasons for recognizing this day because we have granddaughters who have Mosaic Down Syndrome.

A previous letter to the editor spoke of the high rate of abortion seen when there is a diagnosis of Down Syndrome in utero.  Some estimates in the U.S. are that 60-90 percent of children diagnosed with this condition before birth, are aborted.

My heart grieves at that terrible statistic, both for the baby and the mother.  Misinformation, fear, a lack of encouragement and support, all may have been a part of that decision women have felt they must make.

All parents raising any children will have joys and challenges.  A child with a Down Syndrome diagnosis is no different.  They may have needs that require therapies, special equipment, and special strategies to help them learn.  But all these things don’t happen in a vacuum.  They happen in the midst of love and living life.

As with any child, their first smiles melt your heart.  Their first steps may take longer to come, so when they do, the excitement of it is electric!  If there are siblings, the joy of everyone wrestling with dad, or joining in the dance party, or swinging together in the backyard, or taking a family walk, or holding hands and praying before meals, all make life so full and beautiful when each and every person is celebrated and loved in their own unique and special way.  Brothers and sisters learn very important lessons sooner than others, on what it really means to love one another.

Being a part of sports teams, in music and church programs, dance lessons and recitals, swim lessons…all of these activities may be a part of the life of a child, including those with Down Syndrome. There may  be adaptations needed, and challenges in communication, but who can refuse a Girl Scout who presses her talker device and asks you if you want to buy Girl Scout cookies?  Our community is so blessed to have so many welcoming, caring people, and opportunities for children with special needs.

On this World Down Syndrome Day, we hope you will learn more, encourage, include, help, rejoice, and will be totally blessed by someone with Down Syndrome.  We certainly will!

Nancy Tews

Dodgeville, WI