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October is down syndrome awareness month

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 10:43 AM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -October is down syndrome awareness month. According to ndss.org, around 6,000 babies are born each year with down syndrome. Megan Cole spoke with the executive director of the Central Aroostook Association and has more on how they support those with down syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“In genetic terms, it’s a tricemene, it’s three genes that got together on the 21st chromosome which causes down syndrome.”

Stephen Richard, the executive director of the central Aroostook association says they have many programs to support those with down syndrome or intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“We have 4 certified teachers, we have a speech therapist and occupational therapist a physical therapist so we’re really able to provide the support that an individual really needs. Obviously as people age they need different types of support so we have programs that provide adult services for individuals with varying ability levels including individuals who have down syndrome. And we also have waiver homes where individuals live where we are able to manage and oversee the homes on a 24 hour 365 day a year basis.”

“For downs and other types of IDD we have residential care homes. We have a nursing facility as part of our agency and we also have what are called waiver homes which are smaller homes with 5 or 6 beds. We also have a community supports program which used to be called day program where people get out into the community. We take them to have do activities, we take them…do some job training,” said Rob Moran, executive director for the Community Living Association.

Both say it’s important for these programs to exist so people can live the best life possible.

“Everybody no matter who you are deserves an education, deserves to live in the community they choose to live in, deserves to be able to recreate like any other person does so it really is important to me that through the years that we have seen that you know we have gone from institution. We’ve gone from putting people in large institutions to now having people in the community where they should have been in the first place.”

“So people can live the best life that they’re able too. You know everybody wants to be have autonomy in their life and be able to make their own decisions as much as they can and this helps them to achieve a level of independence that if they didn’t have some support, these types of support they wouldn’t be able necessarily to get too.”

More information can be found on the Central Aroostook Association and Community Living Association websites.

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