Spread the Word to End the Word

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Written By:  Elizabeth McMahon, MA, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist

In February 2009, the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign was created by the Special Olympics and Best Buddies.  This campaign has been influential in using people first language and to show others how hurtful the “r-word” is to those with special needs.  March 6, 2013 is the annual day of awareness and there are special events going on all over the country.  Please check with organizations in your community for more information.  In Memphis, Best Buddies and DSAM will be at the Old Navy at Wolfchase to spread awareness and encourage people to sign the pledge banner.

In October 2010, Rosa’s Law removed the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from federal health, education and labor policies and replaces them with people first language such as “individuals with an intellectual disability.”  This law is a significant milestone to promote people first language and acceptance for all people with intellectual disabilities.  Since then, several states have also updated their policies and have implemented positive, people first language.

Using positive language is important.  The way we talk and the words we choose say a lot about what we think and value.  As a society, we must move forward with our thinking and views of those with special needs. We must pledge to be advocates for the acceptance and equal rights for everyone.  We must work towards creating an environment with positive language, an environment of love and acceptance for everyone.  Take the pledge with me.  Spread the word to end the word in order to show inclusion, respect, unity, dignity, acceptance, friendship and unconditional love.

10 Reasons to Step Up for Down Syndrome

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.  Many organizations across the United States will be hosting walks and events to raise awareness and support for those with Down syndrome in their community.  In Memphis, we will Step Up for Down Syndrome on Sunday, October 21 at the Memphis Botanic Gardens.

There are many reasons why you should Step Up for Down Syndrome in your community:

1.  By attending these events, you are showing your love and support for those with Down syndrome and their families. You are advocating for the acceptance and inclusion of EVERYONE in your community.

2.  It doesn’t cost a lot of money – $10 to show your support and you get a t-shirt and food!

3.  These organizations are mostly non-profits.  The money raised goes towards the cost of running these organizations and to fund programs and workshops in your community.

4.  You’ll see and meet some very talented children and adults with Down syndrome.  At the Memphis event, there is a wonderful talent show each year.

5.  It’s a fun family day.  In Memphis, there are children’s games, face painting, wonderful food and lots of great music!

6.  You can check out the ABILITIES of children and adults with Down syndrome in your community by visiting the Imagine the PossABILITIES tent showcasing all their wonderful achievements.

7.  You’ll be able to get outside, enjoy the fresh air and the beautiful scenery – especially at the Memphis Botanic Gardens.

8.  Take some time to visit the Resource Tables.  You’ll be able to learn more about the different agencies and the services offered in your community.

9.  Form or join a team.  You’ll spend some fun, quality time with your friends and family while helping others at the same time!

10.  You will learn that we are all more alike than we are different. Each person at these events has a story to tell and a dream to share.  Please join us and let’s celebrate the possibilities!

For more information about the walk in Memphis, please visit DSAM.

To find an event near you, please visit the the National Down Syndrome Society.

Down Syndrome Awareness

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month!  There are many things you can do to support individuals with Down syndrome in your community and around the world.

Be Respectful
:   Use positive language while talking about those with Down syndrome and others with special needs.  These individuals are children and adults with Down syndrome, not “Down’s kids” or a “Down syndrome child.” Don’t be afraid to share the message with others and encourage them to be respectful as well.  Know the facts while talking about Down syndrome:

  1. Down syndrome is a genetic condition which occurs in 1 of every 691 live births.
  2. Children and adults with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes instead of 46.
  3. Down syndrome is not related to race, nationality, religion or socioeconomic status.
  4. Children and adults with Down syndrome are more like those without Down syndrome than they are different.

Be Inclusive:    Individuals with Down syndrome do experience developmental delays, but they also have talents and gifts to share with others and should be given every opportunity and encouragement to do so.  Most children attend schools in their neighborhood, some in regular classes and some in special education.  Some adults with Down syndrome attend post-secondary education, volunteer and work in the community.

Many children and adults with Down syndrome play musical instruments and enjoy drawing and painting. Children and adults with Down syndrome participate on athletic teams, either with the Special Olympics or on integrated teams at school and in the community.  They have close friendships with others and may have boyfriends or girlfriends as well.

Be Supportive:  When you see adults with Down syndrome working in the community, support them and the business they are working for.  Support your local organizations providing services for these families and children.  In Memphis, the Down Syndrome Association of Memphis and the Mid-South (DSAM) provides many workshops for parents and educators throughout the year.  There are many Down syndrome associations across the United States and the world.  Most of these organizations are non-profits and function on private grants and funding.  Offer your support financially or by volunteering at their many events.

Be Involved: Support legislation and organizations to provide accurate information about Down syndrome to others. With the advancements of prenatal testing, expectant mothers are learning whether or not their baby has Down syndrome in the first trimester.  According to recent studies, 92% of women worldwide choose to terminate their pregnancy when they receive a definitive prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.  Dr. Brian Skotko and his associates have completed several studies about Down syndrome and you can follow his blog to learn more.

One of the most important things to know about Down syndrome is that each child and adult with Down syndrome is an individual – with their own unique personality, hopes, dreams and talents.

There are many different ways you can support children and adults with Down syndrome throughout your community.  To learn more, visit your local Down syndrome association or contact the following agencies:

National Down Syndrome Congress

National Association for Down Syndrome

National Down Syndrome Society

Down Syndrome Association of Memphis and the Mid-South

Now It’s Your Turn:  What are you doing to support those with Down syndrome and their families?

Down Syndrome Awareness

March 21, 2012 marks the 7th Anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day.  There are many things you can do to support individuals with Down syndrome in your community and around the world.


Be Respectful
:   Use positive language while talking about those with Down syndrome and others with special needs.  These individuals are children and adults with Down syndrome, not “Down’s kids” or a “Down syndrome child.” Don’t be afraid to share the message with others and encourage them to be respectful as well.  Know the facts while talking about Down syndrome:

  1. Down syndrome is a genetic condition which occurs in 1 of every 691 live births.
  2. Children and adults with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes instead of 46.
  3. Down syndrome is not related to race, nationality, religion or socioeconomic status.
  4. Children and adults with Down syndrome are more like those without Down syndrome than they are different.

Be Inclusive:    Individuals with Down syndrome do experience developmental delays, but they also have talents and gifts to share with others and should be given every opportunity and encouragement to do so.  Most children attend schools in their neighborhood, some in regular classes and some in special education.  Some adults with Down syndrome attend post-secondary education and volunteer in the community.

Many children and adults with Down syndrome play musical instruments and enjoy drawing and painting. Children and adults with Down syndrome participate on athletic teams, either with the Special Olympics or on integrated teams at school and in the community.  They have close friendships with others and may have boyfriends or girlfriends as well.

Include those with Down syndrome in your lives.  Invite a child with Down syndrome to your child’s birthday party.  Invite a family to church, a ball game or family BBQ. You’ll make great friends and learn that you are more alike than you are different.

Be Supportive:  When you see adults with Down syndrome working in the community, support them and the business they are working for.  Support your local organizations providing services for these families and children.  In Memphis, the Down Syndrome Association of Memphis and the Mid-South (DSAM) provides many workshops for parents and educators throughout the year.  There are many Down syndrome associations across the United States and the world.  Most of these organizations are non-profits and function on private grants and funding.  Offer your support financially or by volunteering at their many events.

Be Involved: Support legislation and organizations to provide accurate information about Down syndrome to others. With the advancements of prenatal testing, expectant mothers are learning whether or not their baby has Down syndrome in the first trimester.  According to recent studies, 92% of women worldwide choose to terminate their pregnancy when they receive a definitive prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.  Dr. Brian Skotko and his associates have completed several studies about Down syndrome and you can follow his blog to learn more.

One of the most important things to know about Down syndrome is that each child and adult with Down syndrome is an individual – with their own unique personality, hopes, dreams and talents.

There are many different ways you can support children and adults with Down syndrome throughout your community.  To learn more, visit your local Down syndrome association or contact the following agencies:

National Down Syndrome Congress

National Association for Down Syndrome

National Down Syndrome Society

Down Syndrome Association of Memphis and the Mid-South