There is a beautiful excerpt written by Emily Perl Kingsley, a “Sesame Street” writer and advocate for individuals with special needs. Welcome to Holland describes a mother’s perspective on having a child with disabilities. Like a warm hug, this passage wraps around the hearts of many, providing inspiration and encouragement. Kingsley compares her experience as a parent of a child with Down Syndrome to planning a trip to Italy, only to find out you’ve been rerouted to Holland. It’s not what you expected, but the experience is no less special or beautiful. In fact, it’s filled with unexpected joys, many treasures, and most of all, love.
This October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. It’s a time to share information and celebrate the achievements of individuals with Down Syndrome. Last year, an estimated 6,000 babies in the United States were born with this chromosomal condition, which occurs when an additional copy of chromosome 21 is present. Each one of these individuals has the ability to do amazing things. Their condition does not define them, and their unique strengths and abilities shine brightly. People with Down Syndrome have meaningful relationships, work and contribute to society, vote, and accomplish goals and dreams.
Technology and advancements in medicine have made it possible to treat many conditions that individuals with Down Syndrome commonly face, allowing them to live longer and healthier lives. Physical therapy can help to treat low muscle tone, improve strength, balance, and quality-of-life. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) stresses the importance of physical therapy, as physical abilities lay the ground work for other skills. The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) states that the life expectancy for people with Down Syndrome has risen drastically, from an average of 25 years of age in 1983, to 60 years of age presently. NDSS reports there are approximately 400,000 people in the United States living with Down Syndrome.
For these individuals and their families, the future is bright and full of potential. There is community support in every corner. Organizations like NDSS and its 375 local affiliates, the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, parent groups, and initiatives like the National Buddy Walk® Program help to ensure the road through Holland is not a lonely one, and there is always somewhere to turn.
During the month of October and every day, South County Physical Therapy encourages everyone to celebrate, advocate, and empower all individuals for their unique abilities. The world needs both Holland and Italy to truly appreciate life and all it has to offer.
If you or someone you love is impacted by Down Syndrome, SCPT can help. Please contact SCPT for more information at 508-832-2628.