The Importance of Accepting and Appreciating People with Down Syndrome
A few years ago, while waiting in front of a sari-sari store for a tricycle going home, I met a child having a down syndrome. This 4-year-old child was adopted by the sari-sari store owner whom I’m acquainted with. The child came out of the store and approached me. As a friendly creature, I greeted him, but to my surprise, he hugged me! I saw that he looked different from a normal child. The child was quite big of his age and if I’m not mistaken, he was obese. He mumbled stuff on his own in a speech that I can’t understand. He also has a flat-broad face, small ears, and a flat-bridged nose. I hugged him as well although I’m full of hesitation. After 2 minutes, I decided to let him go with little force because he was giving no sign of breaking our hug. I tried to talk to him but I can’t understand his responses. So, I simply took out my phone and together, we watched a video. Although the video was not funny, he keeps on giggling while protruding his tongue, which I noticed that have some grooves on it. He also has flaky skin on his face that makes him looked more special. From the lecture, I learned that children with down syndrome once were referred as “mongoloids” because they looked like people from Mongolia. This is the most common chromosomal abnormality and occurs because of the presence of 3 copies of chromosome 21 instead of the normal 2. They often manifest on children concepted by parents who are high risk. These children look different that they may have brachycephaly, up-slanting palpebral fissures, epicanthal folds, brushfield spots, flat nasal bridge, small folded ears, open mouth with protruding tongue, short neck with excessive skin at the nape, short broad hands, short and incurved fifth finger, Simian crease, and hyper flexibility of joints. Additionally, individuals with down syndrome are delayed in all aspects of their development.
Almost all babies with down syndrome have mental retardation. They have a wide range of cognitive and language production impairment. They are also prone to having complications. Hearing loss is their frequent problem that makes them unable to easily comprehend what you are saying. In their whole population, half of them is having heart disease- atrioventricular septal defect, and five percent of all cases also have gastrointestinal abnormality. They are also at high risk of having eye problems, polycythemia in newborns, hypothyroidism, type 1 diabetes, atlantoaxial instability, skin disorders, and obstructive sleep apnea. And most of these conditions contribute to the mortality of individuals living with this disorder. After the 10-minute video, the tricycle I was waiting for came. I plead my goodbye to him but, I was again surprised when he hugged me tight while crying. I hugged him back and eventually, he calmed down. When I arrived home, I was taken aback to remember that I forgot to know his name. I really regretted that because the next day, bad news came. I didn’t expect that it was the first and last time that I could see him. From then on, people with down syndrome became so meaningful to me. I feel so connected to them because seeing their faces reminds me of the child I have met before. During that time, I was not that knowledgeable about children’s disorders. But with the lecture, I was able to learn a lot of disorders that affects children and realize how unique individuals with these conditions are. Although their conditions could greatly affect their lives and of the people around them, we should not discriminate and consider them as disabled. Instead, we should recognize them as unique individuals. Unlike normal children, a child with a disorder is special and fragile that they need acceptance, care, attention, and appreciation. And as individuals who are normal, we should accept them and be the one to give these extra care, attention, and appreciation that they need.