By Crystal Thompson
Did you know that October was Down Syndrome Month? Like many other Havre residents, Beth Bondy was not aware of that fact until she was on the Internet recently looking up information on Down Syndrome and found out that last month was dedicated to that exact disorder.
Bondy admits that she probably wouldn't have even noticed the many websites and information available concerning Down Syndrome, had it not been for her son, Noah. Noah was born with Down Syndrome in August of this year. Since then, Bondy has been actively seeking information on the disorder.
Most people know or have heard about someone with Down Syndrome, however a lot of people don't know much about the disorder itself, and therefore tend to shy away from those who have it. Often people with Down Syndrome are very unique and friendly. One suggestion Bondy offers to raise awareness about Down Syndrome to talk to someone about the disorder, be informed and inform others. Also, Bondy said, if you see someone with Down Syndrome, smile at them and don't be afraid to say hello, it could make their day.
Doctors know little about the causes of Down Syndrome, although currently one in every 800 to 1,100 babies in the U.S. is born with Down Syndrome, according to the National Down Syndrome Congress (DSC).
Doctors do know, however, that Down Syndrome is not a disease. It is not caused by environment or by something a parent does before, during, or after pregnancy. Down Syndrome is simply a chromosome disorder which usually causes delay in physical, intellectual and language development. While most babies are born with 46 chromosomes, 23 from their mother and 23 from their father, babies with Down Syndrome are born with 47 chromosomes.
Early intervention and mental stimulation is key to helping a Down Syndrome baby's development. Bondy said that she plans to intervene early and do everything she can to aid her son's progress. She also said that she hopes new Down Syndrome research and information will come about in the near future to help those with the disorder.
There is a wide variation in mental abilities, as well as behavioral and physical development in individuals with Down Syndrome. In the past, those with Down Syndrome were not allowed equality of opportunity in their communities. Gradually, however, steps have been made in order to break the social barriers and increase the acceptance and expectations of those with Down Syndrome.
Today, individuals with Down Syndrome can belong to regular daycares and schools, participate in community sports and activities, proceed to college and/or employment, and move out of their parents' homes into a variety of living environments being as independent and self-sufficient as possible.
Parents of children with Down Syndrome should learn all they can about the disorder. Parental involvement and support is key to the development of children with the disorder. Bondy said that she is part of a small local support group made up of parents with Down Syndrome children. Anyone wanting to learn more about the group can contact Bondy at 262-9267.
There are also many websites available for those wanting to learn about Down Syndrome. Bondy suggests checking out www.ndss.org; also for area families affected by Down Syndrome, Quality Life Concepts in Havre can direct you to support services in the area. Contact QLC at 265-2620.