Disability commission observes World Down Syndrome Day

The National Commission on Disability (NCD) commemorated the seventh World Down Syndrome Day in order to raise awareness about the condition and promote measures that will allow persons afflicted with the condition to contribute to society.

According to a press release, the first official observances were held at the United Nations headquarters under the theme ‘Building our future’ yesterday. The United Nations also held observances for the first time this year.

The UN recognises Down syndrome or Down’s syndrome as a naturally occurring genetic condition that exists in all regions across the globe and commonly results in variable effects on learning styles, physical characteristics or health. There are an estimated seven million persons living with the condition worldwide.

Individuals with the condition may show mild to moderate intellectual disability, with a small number having a severe to high degree of intellectual disability. “However, it is very important to stimulate, encourage, and educate children with Down syndrome from infancy,” the release said, adding that early intervention programmes, including physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy can be very helpful.

While children with Down syndrome are able to develop social skills, they often struggle with motor skills, speech and language delays. Without early intervention and the appropriate supports these delays will persist throughout their lives. Children with this condition greatly benefit from being able to learn and explore in a safe and supportive environment and from being included in family, community and preschool life to develop their full potential.

According to the NCD, though much has been done for persons afflicted with the condition, “there is still so much more we can do because persons with Down syndrome can still lead active and productive lives and contribute to the development of our society.” To help facilitate this, the NCD advises the public against referring to persons afflicted with the condition as victims, mongol, retarded or other derogatory terms, instead they can refer to them as persons with a learning disability or a person who has Down syndrome.

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