I'm pretty sure most people know that my sweet son Beckett has Down syndrome, if you didn't you do now. It's a topic that makes some people feel uncomfortable, usually because they don't know anything about Down syndrome and I understand that. Most people are kind, supportive and loving - the odd person (believe it or not) is rude, ignorant and insensitive.
Beckett was diagnosed with Down syndrome when he was five days old. He's healthy, loving, smart and kind - he lights up our lives - everyone who meets him falls instantly in love. We knew nothing about Down syndrome but we quickly became experts, as did our family and friends. We didn't know anyone with Down syndrome, now we know lots of people. Beckett changed a lot of things for us, all for the better.
Here's some facts about Down syndrome:
- Down syndrome is named after John Langdon Down, the British doctor who described the syndrome in 1866.
- It is a chromosomal anomaly, or mix-up, in the genetic blue-print that occurs at conception
- Individuals with Down syndrome have an extra #21 chromosome, the medical term is Trisomy 21.
- Approximately 1 in 547 live births is a child with Down syndrome
- Children with Down syndrome have some physical, intellectual and emotional developmental delays.
- Children with Down syndrome may also have other medical conditions.
- Physical characteristics may include almond-shaped eyes, a single palmar crease on one, or both hands and small facial features.
- Down syndrome is not related to race, religion or socio-economic status.
- Children with Down syndrome share more similarities than differences with other children. They learn, laugh, play and want friends just like all children.
- Individuals with Down syndrome benefit from loving parents, early medical and educational attention and positive public attitudes.
- Children with Down syndrome have a full complement of emotions and attitudes, are creative and imaginative in play and pranks, and grow up to live independent lives with varying degrees of support and accommodations needed.
On standard IQ tests, children with Down syndrome most often score in the mild to moderate range of mental handicap. These tests do not measure many important areas of intelligence and one will often be surprised by the memory, insight, creativity, and cleverness of a child with Down syndrome.
Thousands of young people with Down syndrome across the country are quietly going on with their lives and transforming their communities by just being there. They have dreams and the determination to reach their goals. They learn in regular classrooms in their neighborhood schools with the children who will one day be their co-workers, neighbors and adult friends. Young adults hold diverse and meaningful jobs, maintain their own households and make significant contributions to their communities.
Here's some things that really irritate me:
- Use of the word retarded, especially when used to insensitively describe something stupid
- The term "Downs kids" they are not "Downs kids" they are children who happen to have Down syndrome
- People who say "They're such happy people" I'd like to think that my child being happy is because we love him not because he has an extra chromosome.
- People who assume and don't ask questions, if you are uncomfortable around someone with special needs just ask questions to become better educated - trust me, parents are more than happy to have a thoughtful discussion about their child.
Working in television I get to attend many charity events, it's something I have always done and enjoyed....these events mean more to me since I've had children. We're all vulnerable to challenges, no one is immune, no one lives a perfect life. My dreams for Beckett are the same dreams you have for your child, I want him to be happy and healthy - I want him to be everything he wants to be. When I look at Beckett and Zoë I feel so much love and happiness, my children hold my heart - nothing makes me happier.