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Living With Down Syndrome Essay

2582 words - 10 pages

There are many different types of children with a myriad of needs in our school system. Included within this group of students are those who are diagnosed with Down syndrome. There are more than 250,000 people living in the United States with a Down syndrome diagnosis (Genetics). Down syndrome is not a hidden disability rather it has physical attributes that can make the diagnosis obvious. Furthermore, individuals with Down syndrome and their families have to cope with multiple health issues, cognitive limitations, and the stigma of having a disability. In order to understand the struggle that people with Down syndrome must face from the beginning of their life, we must first understand where the diagnosis came from.
Down syndrome was first classified by Dr. John Langdon Haydon Down, who referred to persons with down syndrome as mongoloids because of their facial features being similar to those who are from Mongolia, particularly the slanted eyes (Moran). As a result this disorder was known as mongolism, but this is now considered offensive and has been recognized as Down syndrome since the early 1970s (Moran). Though Dr. Down didn't have down syndrome, he became an advocate for the proper treatment for people who were mentally handicapped. Dr. Down was the pioneer of discovering the similar traits of those who had down syndrome. However, it was the geneticist Jerome Lejeune who discovered the gene abnormality which in turn manifests the physical and mental traits Dr. Down was studying (Moran). Dr. Down showed us what Down syndrome looks like, but Jerome Lejeune showed us where it came from.
Down syndrome is a disorder that happens when a baby is conceived, not something that happens after they are born or as they continue to grow into adulthood. This is due to Down syndrome being a chromosomal disability where a mutation occurs in cell division resulting in the individual having an extra genetic chromosome 21(NCDS). The error is known as non-disjunction, which occurs in cell division at the moment of conception (Olney). Though scientists have been able to pin point the origin of down syndrome to this specific moment, there is little knowledge as to why the non-disjunction occurs in the first place. Early detection is possible through amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling, which is a test done to check for any chromosomal abnormalities while the baby is still in utero (Olney). Women that are over the age of 35 are recommended to have this test completed because they are at risk of the abnormalities occurring (Olney) One of the abnormalities is that they have a higher chance of having a child that has Down syndrome. Even without early detection tests it is still possible to determine if a person has Down syndrome. This is done through karyotyping which is a test of the number of chromosomes in a sample of body cells (Crocker). The test also looks at the size and the shape of the chromosomes. This testing helps to identify if...

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