Down syndrome is a genetic condition that is caused by an extra chromosome in the body's cells. People with Down syndrome have characteristic facial and other physical features. There is a degree of mental disability associated with this condition. However, this varies from individual to individual. There may also be some other inherent problems with some organs of the body like the heart, lungs, ears or intestines. Most people with Down syndrome can live normal, happy lives with the correct care and support.

8 Famous People with Down Syndrome

The more educated and informed society is made on Down syndrome, the better these individuals are understood and incorporated into everyday life. Just because they look different doesn't mean they have no valuable impact to make on society. This is clearly illustrated in Hollywood, which has seen a few great actors with Down syndrome elevate the art of acting.

Luke Zimmerman

He starred in the series called The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Although he had been involved in acting for most of his life, the role of the adopted older brother in this family series is what catapulted him into celebrity status.


Lauren Potter

Lauren Potter is one of the famous people with Down syndrome. This blonde actress gained popularity on the TV show Glee.


Tommy Jessop

A star in his own right in the British Documentary Growing Up Down's. This documentary follows 3 individuals with Down syndrome and their daily ups and downs as they produce the Shakespeare play, Hamlet. This British actor has been acting since 2007.


Chris Burke

Christ Burke is the National Down Syndrome Society's Goodwill Ambassador since 1994. He has used his celebrity status to bring awareness to Down syndrome worldwide. He is famous for his role as the beloved brother, Corcky of the Thacher family, in the popular TV show Life Goes On. His other TV appearances include: ER, Touched by an Angel and the successful movie Mona Lisa Smile.


Edward Barbanell

Edward Barbanell, a comedian who has appeared in productions like The Ringer, Workaholics and The New Normal. He has also made a guest appearance in Johnny Knoxville's Jackass 3D.


Jamie Brewer

Jamie Brewer is another one of the famous people with Down syndrome. He plays the clairvoyant witch Nan in the popular TV show American Horror Story: Coven.


Angela Bachiller

Angela Bachiller became the first person with Down syndrome to be elected a councilwoman in her native Spain. Prior to that, she worked as an administrative assistant in the department of Social Welfare and Family. Her favorite pastime activities include reading and travelling. Her hope is to make a difference to the lives of people with disabilities and educate people on the normality of those with Down syndrome.


Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson is a famous painter who has exhibited his artwork at Vanderbilt University. He has created more than 500 commissioned paintings and has had his art featured on the cover of American Journal of Public Health.

Myths About Down Syndrome Debunked

Apart from the famous people with Down syndrome, there are also common people with Down syndrome who need understanding. Here are more truths about Down syndrome.

Myth: Down syndrome children are only born to older parents.

Truth: Whilst the chances of having a baby with an extra chromosome increase after the age of 35, it has been found that 80% of children with this condition are born to women under the age of 35.

Myth: Having a Down syndrome child can place strain on a relationship.

Truth: The American Association of Intellectual Disabilities published a recent study which suggested that rates of divorce are lower in families with Down syndrome.

Myth: Siblings are negatively affected.

Truth: Another study conducted found that siblings of people with Down syndrome actually are more tolerant, compassionate individuals compared to their peers.

Myth: Down syndrome people have a shorter life expectancy.

Truth: An individual with Down syndrome has an average life expectancy of 60 years. Some have been known to exceed this number and survived well into their 80's.

Myth: They are limited physically.

Truth: Problem with walking is not an inherent problem of Down syndrome. Physical therapy as a child can help with agility and physical prowess. There are Special Olympics that cater to these individuals in the form of the Special Olympics.

Myth: They cannot read or write.

Truth: Well-trained staffs are able to teach children to read and write quite proficiently.

Myth: They cannot attend regular school.

Truth: In countries like the US, it is required by law to accept a child with Down syndrome. They are required to provide appropriate education to suit the child's needs.

Myth: Those with Down syndrome don't feel pain.

Truth: This is absolutely untrue and medical practitioners should provide the same level of pain medication as for other people. People with Down syndrome may be slow to react to pain stimuli but they still feel it to the same extent as others.

Myth: The all look alike.

Truth: Not all individuals share the same physical characteristics like almond-shaped eyes and a shorter height. They usually resemble their families.

Myth: They are all overweight.

Truth: Studies have found that Down syndrome individuals have thyroid and metabolic problems which could predispose them to obesity. This can be rectified by eating a healthy diet and exercising moderately.

Myth: They are unable to have children.

Truth: Older studies have suggested that males with Down syndrome are infertile but there have been documented cases of males having fathered children. Women are fertile and are able to bear children.

Myth: They have poor memories.

Truth: This is untrue and the degree of memory retention depends on the individual, as is the case with other typical people.


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