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Love Me As I Am
My brother, Zachary Dean Johnson, was born in January of 2014. He was born with Trisomy 21, also known as Down Syndrome. He is well cared and loved for by his four siblings and wonderful, patient parents and grandparents.
Down Syndrome is a genetic condition in which a person has 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46. One in every 691 babies in the the United States is born with Down Syndrome, making Down syndrome the most common genetic condition. Approximately 400,000 Americans have Down Syndrome and about 6,000 babies are born with it in the United States each year. Down Syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels, though older women have an increased chance of having a child with it.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Trisomy 21, but there are certain types of treatment. Like, speech therapy, physical therapy, educational therapy, etc.
Some common physical features of Down Syndrome include:
A flattened face, especially the bridge of the nose
Almond-shaped eyes that slant up
A short neck
A tongue that tends to stick out of the mouth
Tiny white spots on the iris (colored part of the eye)
Small hands and feet
A single line across the palm of the hand (palmar crease)
Small pinky fingers that sometimes curve toward the thumb
Poor muscle tone or loose joints
Shorter in height as children and adults
Back of head/neck is flattened.
Like Zach, some kids might have to wear a helmet. The helmet helps correct the flattened part of the neck/head.
Zach has recently started clapping. This is a huge improvemt from not even being able to hold up his own head to now sitting up on his own and clapping! (See pictures below) I watch these Baby Sign Language movies with him, hoping he’ll catch on. Also, he now signs “momma.” Personally, I think the Baby Signing movies are working. I mean, if they’re getting stuck in my head then surely they’re getting stuck in his!
Some health problems that occur in people with Down Syndrome:
Obstructive sleep apnea, which is a condition where the person’s breathing temporarily stops while asleep
Eye diseases, like cataracts and eye issues requiring glasses
Heart defects present at birth
Down Syndrome is not Zach’s name or who he is, so don’t call him a Downs kid, because he’s just a kid who happens to have Down Syndrome. It’s not a birth defect, or a disease, it’s not contagious, and you can’t cure it. Down Syndrome is just something he was born with, and I love him so much.