For many, October is a month that focuses on Halloween, Columbus Day and breast-cancer awareness.
But what many people do not know is that it is also designated as Down Syndrome Awareness Month. According to the National Association for Down Syndrome, 1 in every 691 births will result in that baby being diagnosed with the genetic disorder. Down syndrome is the most frequent chromosomal disorder, and 80 percent of the children who are born with it are from mothers younger than 35. Of these kids, 40 percent also are diagnosed with congenital heart defects.
Though most children diagnosed with Down syndrome have mild to moderate impairments, the majority of these children attend public schools. Also, many of these children upon graduation attend some kind of post-secondary educational course. And a child with Down syndrome is more similar to other children than dissimilar.
Members of the Long County Sheriff’s Office, in an effort to raise awareness for Down syndrome, will wear yellow T-shirts this month.
“The knowledge about Down syndrome is low out in the community, so we want to do all we can to let people know that it’s out there,” Sheriff Craig Nobles said.
Bringing attention to the disorder is especially important to Lt. Jimmy Middleton and his wife, Crystal. Their 15-year old son, Jimmy Jr., or J.C. as he is called by his family and friends, has Down syndrome.
Middleton said that as a parent of a child with Down syndrome, he realizes there are a lot of people who really don’t know much about the disorder or the children that are diagnosed with it.
“All Down syndrome kids are different. Some have disabilities more severe than others, but what I can tell you is that you have to have patience in dealing with all of them,” he said.
Middleton said that most of the kids want to show affection, and many times they do this by hugging.
“J.C. is very affectionate. He especially likes to show his affection to other children and babies,” Middleton said.
Middleton said that the LCSO bringing attention to Down syndrome means a lot to him and his wife.
For more information, go to www.nads.org.