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Eliana Tardio

Why We Need Down Syndrome Awareness Month

By October 8, 2010

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Just in time for Down Syndrome Awareness Month comes the wonderful story of Monica and David, two people with Down syndrome whose wedding and first year of marriage were turned into a documentary by filmmaker Alexandra Codina. "When Monica and David were born, both mothers were told to institutionalize their children," Codina told Disability Scoop. "To later in life realize that things have evolved and there are opportunities available is very challenging. The solution is not to villainize parents because they need our support just as much as their sons or daughters." Monica & David will premiere on HBO on October 14.

Stories of happy, successful adults with Down syndrome are especially important because the stigma of Down syndrome persists, as shown by this story in the National Post. A Canadian couple who hired a woman to be a surrogate mother for their child. When they found out that the child was likely to be born with Down syndrome, the genetic parents asked the surrogate mother to terminate the pregnancy. She refused at first, but eventually agreed because the genetic parents would not support the child and she was unable to raise the child herself. This sounds like a very difficult and painful situation all around. If they had known that many cases of Down syndrome are mild, lots of resources are available for parents, and many children with Down syndrome can do well in school and grow into adults who lead satisfying lives, might these three prospective parents have made different choices?

For Down Syndrome Awareness Month, reach out to the people around you. Show them what daily life with Down syndrome is really like, help dispel some of those myths, and ask for the support you need. Together we can make the world brighter for people with Down syndrome and their loved ones.

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