On 21 March we celebrate World Down Syndrome Day! It’s an important day to recognise and reflect that people with Down syndrome have the right to be treated with respect and have the same opportunities everyone else does.
It’s also a great time to raise awareness about Down syndrome. There are many myths and misconceptions out there about Down syndrome, which can be misleading offensive and stigmatising. So, here we’re breaking down five common myths:
1. Down syndrome always runs in the family
In most cases, Down syndrome doesn’t run in the family – it’s random. Down syndrome is not a disease or sickness. It’s a genetic condition, caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21 in a person’s DNA.
If a parent has Down syndrome, the chances of them having a baby with Down syndrome increases, but that doesn’t mean it always happens.
2. People with Down syndrome are always happy
This is a harmful stereotype. Saying this implies that people with Down syndrome don’t experience emotions like joy, anger, nervousness, sadness, fear, curiosity, confusion or excitement - which just isn’t true! Just like anyone else, people with Down syndrome experience a full range of emotions.
3. Down syndrome is a rare condition
Actually, Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal condition in the world. It’s estimated that approximately 1 in every 1,100 babies born in Australia will have Down syndrome.
4. People with Down syndrome can’t lead fulfilling lives
Again, this is a harmful stereotype. The level of support that people may need will vary person to person, but with the right supports in place people with Down syndrome can absolutely live their best lives! Go to school, make meaningful relationships, have a job and hobbies they love, have a family, travel the world – you name it, people with Down syndrome can do it!
5. People with Down syndrome are all the same
People with Down syndrome may share some common physical features, like face and eye shape, but everyone is unique! People with Down syndrome look more like other people in their family than other people with Down syndrome.
People with Down syndrome are individuals with their own personalities, talents, goals, thoughts and feelings. Grouping people together like this is a common misconception.