Thursday, March 20, 2008
This Good Friday is World Down Syndrome Day
Tomorrow is Good Friday and it is also World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), which falls on 21 March each year. The date is chosen to signify the triplication of the 21st chromosome, the genetic condition that Down Syndrome represents. A good day to celebrate diversity!
Incidentally, WDSD was inaugurated in Singapore in 2006, the year Nadine was born. Before we had her, I knew very little about Down Syndrome. But during my pregnancy I learned it is one of the few genetic conditions the human body will permit for gestation to full term. If a foetus is "defective" and not suitable for life, it generally will not continue. It is stunning the number of miscarriages that happen in very early stages of pregnancy. So any baby that makes it through from conception (itself a statistical challenge!) to delivery is truly a miracle, despite the cliche. And while the ones with Down Syndrome are "different", Mother Nature has decided they have passed the QA test for life.
So what is Nadine like with that extra chromosome? Extra happy, extra loving, extra friendly, extra energetic, extra curious and yes, extra naughty at times. Sure her developmental schedule is more relaxed, and it looks like she isn't fully ready to speak yet at 18 months, but every now and then she will surprise you with how much she knows or can do.
We've been quite encouraged to see more people with Down Syndrome out and about in town. Fewer now are the days when they used to be hidden away at home, not given the chance to socialise or develop skills. We bring Nadine out everywhere we can and it's amazing how many people warm up to her!
I do wish more could be done to integrate such kids into mainstream society though. Sesame Street featured some in this clip from the '70s - always a pioneer they were! With a trippy intro scene that was revolutionary for its time!
Well, since it's WDSD tomorrow, here are three simple things you can do for Down Syndrome awareness:
1) Tell three persons it's World Down Syndrome Day tomorrow. And ask them to tell three others.
2) Learn more. Know that Down Syndrome is not a disease, but a condition. And that people with Down Syndrome are people first. Their lives can be very much improved if just given a chance to be like everyone else.
3) Smile and wave at any disabled or special person/child you see. Stop and say hello. They have survived many odds to be where they are today.
So anyway, here's the food shot for the day! I baked some hot cross buns - my first attempt! And for some of these, instead of a cross, I put three thick stripes representing three chromosomes (trisomy) for World Down Syndrome Day. I (very) loosely followed Spicy Ice-Cream's recipe but my results don't look like hers because I took too liberal a creative licence! Mine turned out soft and fluffy, not sticky and chewy.
Oh well, we are all about celebrating diversity, aren't we? In human beings as well as hot cross buns!