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Down syndrome (also known as Down’s syndrome in the United Kingdom and often referred to as “DS” among families of those with Down syndrome) is the most prevalent genetic cause of learning or intellectual disabilities. One in every 800 babies is diagnosed with Down syndrome. Down syndrome is an abnormality of chromosome 21 that results in extra genetic material, and can be caused by three distinct genetic variations. Over 90 percent of Down syndrome cases are caused by Trisomy 21, in which children have three copies of chromosome 21 in all of their cells (instead of the normal two). Children with Mosaic Down syndrome, a rare form of Down syndrome, have three copies of chromosome 21 in some of their cells but the usual two copies in other cells. In children with Translocation Down syndrome, part of chromosome 21 attaches to another chromosome.
Children with Down syndrome can have other health conditions. Half of children with Down syndrome have congenital heart defects, some of which require surgery. People with Down syndrome have a higher chance of developing leukemia in childhood and are more susceptible to pneumonia and other infectious diseases. Later in life, people with Down syndrome are at increased risk of sleep apnea, dementia, and obesity.
Children with Down syndrome can benefit from early intervention programs to help them increase their quality of life and realize their full potential. Early intervention programs are specialized programs for children with Down syndrome that helps to stimulate them in infancy and as young children with motor, sensory, and cognitive activities. Special therapists help children develop their motor skills, self-help skills, social skills, and language skills.
Parents and families of children with Down syndrome can benefit from the help and support of other families impacted by the condition Online support groups allow parents to talk directly with others to share advice, stories, and help. The websites of national and international organizations offer parents information about Down syndrome as well as information on how to educate children with Down syndrome both at home and at school. Many of these organizations also offer advice on transitioning young adults with Down syndrome to living independently. Some national and international organizations offer in-person support and social groups and activities and may match parents to other families in their area.
- The Arc: This organization promotes human rights for people with disabilities. The website includes information on Down syndrome, civil rights, employment rights, housing, and long-term care.
- MUMS Parent-to-Parent: This organization matches parents of children with Down syndrome with other parents for support.
- International Mosaic Down Syndrome Association: IMDSA provides support and information for families of children with Mosaic Down syndrome.
- Down Syndrome Social Network: A website dedicated to the family and friends of people with Down syndrome. The site offers resources, information, and support.
- Association for Children with Down Syndrome: ACDS offers services for individuals with Down syndrome, for parents, and for caregivers.
- National Down Syndrome Society: NDSS advocates for the acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. The NDSS website has information about Down syndrome and about education and healthcare.
- National Down Syndrome Congress: Information for expectant parents, parents of children with Down syndrome, and advocates. The NDSC also provides information on healthcare, schooling, and integration.
- Sibling Support Project: This organization supports the siblings of people with developmental or health conditions.
- Down Syndrome Research and Treatment Foundation: DSRTF provides parents of children with Down syndrome information, research, and online discussion.
- Down Syndrome Research Foundation: DSRF provides information for new parents of children with Down syndrome and in-person programs in British Columbia, Canada.
- Down Syndrome Association of Toronto: This organization supports the parents of children with Down syndrome through new parent education guides, hospital visits, social events, and other group events.
- Canadian Down Syndrome Society: Resources for parents, new parents, and families of people with Down syndrome in Canada.
- Down’s Heart Group: This UK charity provides support and information on heart conditions associated with Down syndrome.
- Down’s Syndrome Association of the UK: Resources for people with Down syndrome and their families in the UK.
- Making Inclusion Work: An article on best practices for the inclusive education of children with Down syndrome.
- Inclusive Education: Articles and resources for the inclusive education of children with Down syndrome.
- Council of Exceptional Children: This organization advocates for children with special needs.
- Goodwill Industries: Goodwill Industries works with people with disabilities to help them find and keep jobs and increase their independence.
- People First: An organization of people with learning difficulties that advocate for the rights of people with learning disabilities. This website lists affiliates of the group in the UK, Canada, Australia, and the United States.
- TASH: An organization that advocates for the inclusion of people with disabilities.
- Education: Educational resources and inclusion for people with disabilities.
- Transition Tips: Site includes general resources for families of people with Down syndrome; at the bottom of the page there are downloadable transition tips for young adults with Down syndrome who are moving into their own homes and going to work.
- Inclusion Solutions: Resources for parents and educators on inclusion.
- School inclusion: Inclusion information for children from preschool to high school.
- Postnatal Stories: Personal stories of parents of children with Down syndrome.
- Stories and Poems: Stories and poems by people affected by Down syndrome.
- Prenatal Stories: The stories of parents who received a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
- Down Syndrome Online Support: An online support group for parents of children with Down syndrome.
- Bulletin Boards: Parent to Parent bulletin boards for parents of children with Down syndrome. Includes bulletin boards on education and medical issues.
- Disability Experiences: Parents and caregivers share their experiences of caring for and loving children with disabilities.
- Parents Support: Support groups from Parents Helping Parents for parents of children with disabilities; includes a support group dedicated to parents of children with Down syndrome.
- Breastfeeding and Down syndrome: Breastfeeding information for mothers of newborns with Down syndrome; includes personal stories.
- Upside Down: Stories from parents of children with Down syndrome.
- Birth Stories: The National Association for Down Syndrome provides facts, resources, and programs for people with Down syndrome and their families. The site also includes a section on personal stories.
- Support for Special Needs: Forums and resources for parents and siblings of children with disabilities.
- One Mom’s Story: This site includes one mother’s story about parenting a daughter with Down syndrome, as well as questions and answers for parents of children affected by Down syndrome.
- Down Syndrome Listserv: A listserv of people affected by Down syndrome.
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