The cells in every person's body have a nucleus where genetic material is stored in genes. Genes carry the codes responsible for all of our inherited traits and are grouped along structured called, "chromosomes." The nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each of our parents. Down syndrome happens when a person has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.
The additional genetic material changes the course of a person's development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.
A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome include:
Everyone who experiences Down syndrome is a unique individual and might experience these characteristics to varying degrees or not at all. Around 1 in every 690 babies born in America experiences Down syndrome, making Down syndrome the most common form of genetic condition. Approximately 400,000 people in America have Down syndrome and around 6,000 babies are born with the condition in this nation every year.
People with Down syndrome are becoming more and more integrated into society. Community organizations such as health care systems, schools, work forces, recreational and social activities are including them. The majority of people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays that range from mild to moderate.
With advances in medical technologies, people with Down syndrome are living longer than before. For example, the year 1910 found children with Down syndrome being expected to survive until the age of nine years old. After the discovery of antibiotics, the average survival age of people with Down syndrome increased to age 19 or 20. Today, with recent advancements in clinical treatment, particularly corrective heart surgeries, as many as 80% of adults with Down syndrome live to the age of 60 and many live even longer. An increasing number of people in America are interacting with individuals who experience Down syndrome, something that is increasing the need for public education and acceptance.
Many people and organizations have helped Michael, who has Down syndrome, by ordering his painting and note-cards. His work helps to pay for art supplies, allowing him to continue painting each day. The Kotlinski family at, 'Love and Learning,' first gave Michael the possibilities of the Internet, providing him with space on their website and a computer of his own, as well as a year on the Internet.
Michael is excited about learning how to use his computer, sending email messages, as well as corresponding with other artists. Due to the generosity of Love and Learning, he has the ability to share his artwork with many more people. Michael is a talented artist who adores the topics of his choosing.
Michael's subjects often include flowers painted with bright colors, as well as playful animals with expressive faces. Even the night scenes he pursues are filled with light, color, and energy. He has been painting full-time for nine years and is a talented artist who was born with Down syndrome. Michael was also born with an inherited artistic talent.
Michael's family tree is filled with artists, engineers and classical musicians. After graduating from public school he chose to become a full-time artist instead of working in a sheltered workshop. Michael learned how to paint by painting every day, building upon what he had learned in school, as well as through experimentation.
He works in an art studio, painting slowly and carefully. At times Michael paints flowers from still-life and adds animals. At other times, he paints things he has seen while walking along the shores of Lake Michigan, or the animals in his neighborhood. He has painted the carriage horses in Chicago, as well as colorful butterflies in the midst of the flower gardens of Evanston.
The Mexican School of Down Art finds student paintings and lithographs touring major galleries in both America and Europe while receiving impressive reviews. All of the artists have Down syndrome and most of them were considered to be somehow, 'incapable,' until they picked up a brush. At one time the students were thought to have no complex inner life; now these artists paint in the style of, 'expressionism,' an art form defined by the artist's inner life, as well as the placing of subjective emotions aroused by the subject of their paintings.
In a comment about his students with Down syndrome artist Daniel Perez stated, "their limitations enable them to see the world in a way you and I don't." It is not that other people do not see it, it is that we cannot see it. Expressionism is many times contrasted to impressionism. Impressionist art depicts the fleeting nature of things, the visual impact of an object and light at a moment in time. Expressionist art depicts the inner nature of reality and the feelings that give an object its meaning. Within the dualism of civilization vs. primal nature - expressionism tends toward primal nature.
Stunning artistic creativity is being presented by people with disabilities around the world. People with autism, for example, are now writing poetry and autobiographies. Artists with Down syndrome are illustrating books and authors with autism are writing them. Computers that have brought people together on the Internet are also bringing the intellects of people with autism into the dialog.
People without disabilities may find themselves to be rather boring, it might turn out. Non-disabled persons are very good at attempting to behave like everyone else that they share the same delusions, sitting in chairs and telling one another precisely what others expect to hear. Each person has a blind spot - a hole in their retinas where nerves and arteries crowd out vision cells, yet we never see the hole. The world we see there comes from the eye instead of our imaginations.
Despite knowing this, we are unable to turn off the illusion. In the same way, it is almost impossible to break out of the delusion we have scripted for ourselves of exactly what we want our world to be. If planet Earth is ever to be experience a shared common vision and consciousness, everyone must participate. It is truly a blessing to know that people with Down syndrome are finding voices. Artists with Down syndrome see a world many people are unable to imagine.