I have a friend, his name is Matt, he is almost 28 years old. He is one of the most charismatic, inspiring people you will ever meet. Whenever you go anywhere with him, you are sure to make additional friends because he is so outgoing. He is smart, kind, funny, and loves to be the entertainment at parties. This guy has some serious dance moves. He is fun to talk to because he has such a great outlook on life.
“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra” Jimmy Johnson
He is one of those people that gives unconditional love. When he loves you, you know it and you feel it and you can’t help but love him right back. One of the things that makes him special is that he has an extra chromosome. To me, this is one of the things that makes him extraordinary.
“There is no greater disability in society than the inability to see a person as more…” Robert M. Hensel.
Because he was born with an extra chromosome it is part of who he is. The name for having this extra chromosome is Down syndrome. The reason I want to write about this is because October is Down syndrome awareness month and I want to help people have a better understanding of it. I also want to help people understand that even though someone has Down syndrome, the possibilities for them are endless, they may have extra challenges, but we need not put limitations on them because you will be amazed at what people can accomplish even if they have to work a little harder at something.
I think that sometimes as humans when we meet people that have any sort of “disability” we tend to only see that. it is a part of who they are as a person, but it is not their entire identity. He is not Down syndrome, that is just a name for the reason he has to try a little harder to do certain things.
He gets tired a little easier then some people, he has a little trouble with hearing. Sometimes I have to try a little harder to understand him when we have a conversation, so I repeat what he says so that he and I both know that I understand him. But I always want him to feel included in conversations because he is so fun to talk with and it is important to me that he knows I accept him for who he is. I think sometimes it feels a little scary to speak with someone you may not understand very well. Sometimes it takes a little more effort to get to know someone and show them you are willing to try to understand them.
He loves superhero’s, Katy Perry, his birthday, Christmas, his friends and especially his family. If you ask him about Katy Perry, he will tell you she is his wife. Listening to him talk about her is the cutest thing ever! So Katy, just in case you are reading this when he loves you, seriously there is nothing better than feeling his unconditional love. He occasionally sends me random texts and those texts make my day, I can feel the love coming through the phone. So let me know if you want his number.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela
The reason I want to share Matt’s story with you is because I want to help bring awareness of Down syndrome and that people who have Down syndrome are not Down syndrome. They are just like you and I but with just a little more. More love, more understanding, more kindness. Don’t get me wrong, he can be a challenge to his parents (he’s got an attitude like a teenager sometimes) but mostly he is just love. And more love is what we need in this world. We all need to have an open mind and open heart because when you let people into your life, it can be life altering. The relationships we create are the most important thing we can do for ourselves and others. You never know what someone can teach you. If we open our minds and realize that a person may look different than ourselves, but they are still a person with thoughts and feelings. We need to accept each other for our differences.
I am so thankful that I get to be a part of Matt’s life, I have learned so much from him and his family. Patience, kindness, and unconditional love are the most important things. But I have also learned that Down syndrome is a copy of the 21st Chromosome, so he has 3 of the 21st chromosome, while I only have 2. Below is a list of facts I found on http://www.ndss.org check them out if you would like more information. Thank you for taking the time to learn about Matt, he is amazing!
Facts about Down syndrome
- Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome
- There are three types of Down syndrome: trisomy 21 (nondisjunction) accounts for 95% of cases, translocation accounts for about 4%, and mosaicism accounts for about 1%
- Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition. Approximately one in every 700 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome – about 6,000 each year
- Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels
- The incidence of births of children with Down syndrome increases with the age of the mother. But due to higher fertility rates in younger women, 80% of children with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age
- People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia and thyroid conditions. Many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives
- A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are: low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Every person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all
- Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades – from 25 in 1983 to 60 today
- People with Down syndrome attend school, work, participate in decisions that affect them, have meaningful relationships, vote and contribute to society in many wonderful ways
- All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses
- Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care and positive support from family, friends and the community enable people with Down syndrome to lead fulfilling and productive lives