WSIL -- Thursday, March 21 marks World Down Syndrome Awareness Day and local moms are sharing misconceptions about the genetic disorder.
Carbondale resident Samantha Dudley says her four-year-old son, Dash, is active, "He likes to run, and he thinks it’s hilarious. He loves to dance and sing. He loves to go to school."
He also has Down Syndrome meaning he was born with a full, or partial, extra copy of chromosome 21. Samantha found out at the hospital when Dash was a newborn that he also faces heart issues, which can be common for those born with the genetic disorder.
After being transferred to St. Louis and in an incubator for nine days, Samantha was able to hold him for the first time, "You get that mama bear feeling of I'm going to do whatever it takes to support you and to help you grow."
A part of that support is connecting with other children who have Down Syndrome like Sonya Clark's four-year-old son Jazz. Sonya says her son's symptoms are slight, "He's in a class room with his typical peers and he can follow routine."
However, the mothers say there are a lot of misconceptions like those with Down Syndrome are always happy. "No, they're not. They are human just like we are and they have feelings just like we do," says Sonya.
Another misconception is that because of mental and emotional delays, they can't understand our body language, "If you're not asking them to play with you or sit by you at lunch, they can see that."
Instead, with support and patience, those with Down Syndrome can go on to do whatever they set their mind to.
"I see him attending college, higher education," Sonya explains. "I see him working a full-time job."
Samantha also says being a professional video game player might be in Dash's future, "He could definitely be, really anything that he dreams."
The mothers are also co-leaders of the Southern Illinois Down Syndrome Community Group. Members meet once a month and participate in free activities.
Their next event is a pool party at the HUB in Marion from 2 to 4 p.m. March 23 to celebrate World Down Syndrome Awareness Day.