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DSAWM observes National Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October

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This October, the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan (DSAWM) in conjunction with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) invites the community to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month in recognition of the many achievements and abilities of people with Down syndrome.

Community members interested in learning more about Down syndrome can visit area Kent District Library branches where a display of informational posters, suggested reading lists and bookmarks are available. The DSAWM purchased books to donate to school libraries across West Michigan to help educate elementary school age about Down syndrome and peers in their classrooms who may have it.  The DSAWM also purchased and donated 40 copies of "The Paraprofessional’s Handbook for Effective Support for Inclusive Classrooms" by Julie Causton-Theoharis to school districts across the region.

In an ongoing effort to increase medical knowledge on the topic, the DSAWM is partnering with DeVos Children’s Hospital to welcome Dr. Brian Skotko to the area on October 18 and 19. Dr. Skotko, a clinical fellow in genetics at Children’s Hospital Boston, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham & Women’s Hospital, had dedicated his career toward enhancing the lives and well-being of children with cognitive and developmental disabilities.   He will be presenting the 2010 Gerber Lectureship dinner on Monday, October 18 to physician’s, conducting grand rounds on Tuesday morning, October 19 and conducting an inter-active sibling workshop for families of children with disabilities based on his book, "Fasten Your Seatbelt:  A Crash Course on Down Syndrome for Brothers and Sisters."

"The overall goal is to encourage a much broader public understanding of the promise, possibility and potential that people living with Down syndrome have. It is only one aspect of their lives and should not define them," Melissa Tourtelotte, Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan said. 

People with Down syndrome are living longer than ever before. The life expectancy of individuals with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades – from 25 in 1983 to 60 today. Children with Down syndrome are often fully included in social and educational settings and increasingly go on to graduate high school and attend postsecondary education programs. While placement in the workforce remains a struggle, the situation has improved and adults with Down syndrome have attained a variety of positions, bringing enthusiasm, reliability and dedication to their jobs.

Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring genetic condition, one in every 733 live births is a baby born with Down syndrome, and it is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition. Advancements in education, research and advocacy have had a tremendous impact on the opportunities that individuals with Down syndrome have to live healthy and fulfilling lives. People with Down syndrome attend school, work, participate in decisions that affect them and contribute to society in many wonderful ways.

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