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How My Daughter Debunks These 5 Down Syndrome Myths

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Down syndrome has a certain stigma. There are lots of misconceptions surrounding it. Countless myths. That’s why so many people are so scared of it. In that spirit, I want to go through the top five myths about Down syndrome and correct them. You likely won’t find these answers on Google or in textbooks or at doctors’ offices. But I spend 99 percent of my life with an adorable little girl with Down syndrome, and this is the reality.

Myth 1: People with Down syndrome are unhealthy.

False. About half of people with DS have a heart condition, and 40 percent require surgery. Not to downplay the surgery, but it is usually successful nowadays. The other 60 percent don’t have a heart condition. Alice doesn’t. Some issues with the thyroid and sleep apnea can be more prevalent in people with Down syndrome. These are also easily fixable.

Alice playing with a walking toy. Her two bulldogs are nearby.

Myth 2: People with Down syndrome are very expensive to take care of.

False. We have secondary insurance for kids with DS (called BCMH) that covers any additional costs for Alice. Even her well checks at the pediatrician are covered by it. In addition, when she goes to preschool, it will be free due to her diagnosis. She’s our least expensive child.

Alice sitting in her car seat.

Myth 3: You have to take care of people with Down syndrome forever.

False. People with DS are determined to show their worth and abilities now more than ever. There’s an increasingly high number of people with DS going to college, entering the workforce, living independently, getting married, etc. Don’t assume incompetence or dependence because of a diagnosis.

Alice wearing a pink t-shirt that says "Up Syndrome."

Myth 4: Babies with Down syndrome are only born to older parents.

False. The average age to have a baby with DS is 28, and 80 percent of babies with DS are born to women under age 35. I was 32 when I had Alice.

Myth 5: Having a baby with Down syndrome will negatively impact your other kids and your marriage.

False. Your other kids will know the beauty of differences and learn empathy, patience and unconditional love from the very start. In my experience, your marriage will change, but in a good way. You’ll get to see your spouse take on an unexpected role and totally crush it.

Someone once told me the pain of childbirth is the best-kept secret. I agreed until I had Alice. Now I know the best-kept secret is the beauty and privilege of raising a child with Down syndrome.

Alice with her siblings and dad.

Originally published: April 14, 2020
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