The new Living with Down Syndrome publication will destroy myths and help overcome barriers for people with Down syndrome to reach their full potential.

The New Zealand Down Syndrome Association (NZDSA) this week published the enhanced 2020 edition of the resource to coincide with World Down Syndrome Month and regards the booklet as a must-have tool for any family or professional interacting with people with Down syndrome.

“Living with Down Syndrome was redesigned as an educational resource with the most current information about Down syndrome from around the world to create greater awareness of the abilities of people with Down syndrome,” says Zandra Vaccarino, National Executive Officer of the NZDSA.

Vaccarino says that the NZDSA had been using an older version of the resource for the past few years, but new research, increased knowledge and different attitudes to the abilities of people with Down syndrome required a complete overhaul of the publication for 2020.

“Our staff and our volunteers have been working on this booklet for months, tapping into the latest research from our global networks, as well as 40 years of parent experiences since the NZDSA was created.”

Aside from the wealth of helpful information for families to deal with different phases of life, Living with Down syndrome is also aimed at the wider community to address preconceived ideas.

“An important aspect of this resource is to address the myths and truths about Down syndrome, so that we can overcome unnecessary barriers which exclude people with Down syndrome to fully participate  in the community,” says Vaccarino.  She added that medical and educational professionals, support workers, employers or anyone else interacting with people with Down syndrome will find that this resource will provide guidelines on how to have empowering engagements with people with Down syndrome.

“This resource was redesigned as an awareness tool to inform and empower the wider community to work alongside the NZDSA to realise our vision that people with Down syndrome are valued and equal members of their community, fulfilling their goals.”

Vaccarino says that ignorance and lack of knowledge often stopped people with Down syndrome to be given opportunities to reach their potential.

“Our people have the same dreams and ambitions as everyone else, to go to school, get a job, go flatting and to have relationships.

“Sometimes they might just need a bit of help to get started, until people realise they can be a great asset in any community, school, club or workplace,” says Vaccarino, who adds that the new publication is also more representative of our diverse membership in Aotearoa.

With increased focus on antenatal testing for Down syndrome, the new version of Living with Down Syndrome includes a large section about the subject to help expecting parents and medical professionals navigate this complex issue.

“We get a lot of questions on this subject so this addresses frequent requests for information regarding antenatal screening.”

Living with Down Syndrome can be downloaded for free once you register your details on https://nzdsa.org.nz/members/resources/