AMT Celebrates World Down Syndrome Day!
This is a guest post by Lauren McClain
On Saturday, people all over the country will join together to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. Why Saturday? The date is March 21st, or 3/21. The date represents the number of 21st chromosomes people with Down Syndrome have. Down Syndrome or Trisomy 21 is a genetic condition that occurs at conception where the individual actually has three copies of the 21st chromosome. In the United States, 1 in 700 children are born with Down Syndrome.
Hadley and Alex: Look at those smiles!
At AM Transport, that statistic changes to 2 in 25 children–Hadley Doris and Alex McClain. That is exactly why we are celebrating BIG on 3/21! While statistics cannot explain why two different families at AM Transport are fortunate to be rocking an extra chromosome, the team at AM Transport celebrates all that Hadley and Alex bring to our community!
The genetic abnormality known as Down Syndrome is most widely known for cognitive delays and facial features. However, oftentimes, people with Down Syndrome have heart conditions which require repair, low muscle tone creating gross and fine motor delays, and small stature, among other physical characteristics.
Today, a child born with Down Syndrome is given many opportunities that didn’t exist for young people with Down Syndrome many years ago. Both Hadley and Alex have participated in a program called Early Intervention. This is a program offered through the State of Illinois which allows children access to therapies–physical, developmental, speech and occupational. Studies show having young children begin therapy very early leads to developmental success upon completion of the program at three years old.
Once a child with Down Syndrome ages out of Early Intervention at three years old, he or she will enter the educational system in a program called Early Childhood. Children with Down Syndrome are automatically eligible for many Special Needs services through the school districts because of their diagnosis. However, children with Down Syndrome today continue to break down many barriers making progress in inclusion classroom settings.
Because of early therapies, children with Down Syndrome require less and less one-on-one instruction later in life. The future for a child born with Down Syndrome is truly as unique as that child. Many young adults with Down Syndrome go onto the adult stage of life where they hold meaningful work, develop typical relationships with friends and significant others, and are upstanding citizens of their communities.
Alex is the son of Rob, Chief Operations Officer, and Lauren McClain--that’s me. He was born in November of 2017. We declined prenatal testing, so Alex’s diagnosis was a complete surprise at birth. Having previously worked in the Social Services field, specifically with young adults with developmental disabilities, I had a very good understanding of what Down Syndrome was. I knew from the first moment I laid my eyes on Alex that he was rocking an extra chromosome. We were fortunate to have Hadley’s mom and dad, Jason (Chief Technology Officer) and Shawna Doris, as friends who could guide us through the first uncertain days. We were truly blessed to have them and their advice and encouragement.
The very moment Hadley met Alex, we knew a friendship had been born. There is a bond between these two sweet children that cannot quite be explained. The really neat thing about their friendship is that it does not need to be explained–they almost have their own communication, and they are the only ones who need to understand it!
Hadley and Alex hanging out at a family gathering.
Although the statistics at AM Transport are skewed, it leaves everyone feeling a lot of HOPE! We know the future is bright with all of the AM Transport offspring, but Hadley and Alex have set the bar pretty high–their ever smiles, and never-ending love can turn any bad day into a great one!
Do you want to learn more about Down Syndrome?
Here is a great resource: www.ndss.org
How can you help?
- There is a new organization I recently joined called Hope Advocates. This organization is educating mothers on communicating hope to doctors’ offices. The organization sends a kit to mothers of children with Down Syndrome. The kit contains information about Down Syndrome and contact cards with the mother’s information. The mother delivers the kit to her OBGYN and her child’s pediatrician. The doctors can then give the contact cards out to new parents of a child with a Down Syndrome diagnosis. The mission of the organization is to spread HOPE to these new families! More information about the organization and the opportunity to help financially are available at www.hopestory.org.
- Be Kind! It seems so simple, but really, if you notice a person with Down Syndrome in public, offer him or her a smile and speak to him or her. Chances are you will become quick friends and you will receive more out of the friendship than you give!
- Practice People-first Language. This is where you put the person before his or her disability. For instance, it is the “young man with Down Syndrome” instead of the “Down Syndrome boy.” This is a fantastic way to begin communicating about any person with special needs. When you put the person first, it truly sends a message that the individual with different needs has importance.
Lauren McClain is Alex, Grant, and Nora’s mom. She is a Business Development Specialist at TrustBank in Olney. She is also a Special Needs Advocate and blogs about hope, joy, and love at twenty-one.