Down Syndrome and Social Inclusion.

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Down Syndrome and Social Inclusion. In order to examine how impairments can affect social inclusion, the condition; Down syndrome, will be briefly described with reference to its cause, diagnosis and characteristics, and associated impairments. The term 'inclusion' will be defined, and discussion will be given to how the condition of Down syndrome can affect the social inclusion of children, adolescents, and adults. Down syndrome was first described by Dr John Langdon Down in 1866, influenced by Darwin's (1859) The Origin of Species; Langdon Down named the syndrome 'mongolism', due to the mongoloid appearance of the eyes, which gave rise to the term 'mongol', which gained universal acceptance (Clarke and Clarke 1996; Lorenz, 1998). In 1959, Lejeune identified Down syndrome as being caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21, due to a failure in the cell division process. Subsequently, Down syndrome, also referred to as Trisomy 21, was recognised as a 'genetic condition', which affects both physical and intellectual development (Lorenz, 1998). In the UK, approximately 600-700 children are born with Down syndrome, the incidence rate increasing with advancing maternal age. It is estimated that there are around 30,000 people with Down syndrome living in the United Kingdom. The life expectancy of people with Down syndrome is currently between 45 and 55 years, with some people living beyond 60 and 70 years (Lorenz, 1998; Buckley, 2000, online). Down syndrome is usually diagnosed at, or soon after birth, based initially on the physical characteristics that are commonly seen in babies with Down syndrome. Common traits are; low muscle tone, flat facial profile, an upward slant to the eyes, small skin folds on the inner corner of the eyes, an abnormal shape of the ear, a single deep crease across the centre of the palm, enlargement of tongue in relationship

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