This year’s National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) convention is in Indianapolis, Indiana at the JW Marriott. A friend of mine attended a previous convention without her family. I asked her why she went by herself. In addition to being able to concentrate on the sessions, she said:
I just think it’s cool to be somewhere where there are a lot of people with Down syndrome.
She had a very good point.
There is something very unique about being in a hotel lobby with dozens and dozens of individuals with Down syndrome of all ages and ethnicities. For almost all of us, even those of us with children with Down syndrome, absent a social event with our local parent group, typically the only person we’re around with Down syndrome is our own child–and for those without a child with Down syndrome, then it’s the rare occasion of “Oh, I saw a young man with Down syndrome at the grocery.” Stepping into the NDSC convention, then, is stepping into a new experience.
In that environment, Down syndrome is not “rare;” it is not “different;” it is not the “other.” Instead, Down syndrome appears to be what it is: quite a normal part of human diversity. Individuals without Down syndrome still outnumber those that do at the convention, but that makes the increased percentage of the crowd having Down syndrome seem all the more typical. Everyone is there: those with just 46 chromosomes and those with the extra 21st Chromosome, mingling, talking, having a drink, and dancing at the annual awards banquet.
It is a very cool experience and one I hope you’ll have in your life.
Registration for the convention is closed, but onsite registration will be available. I expect those who are attending have already made those plans. If so, I hope you’ll let me know you’re attending by leaving a comment below or on my Facebook page or by sending me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will be presenting on Friday at 3:30 in Room 208 on “The new era of prenatal testing: answering questions about the new age of genetics.” (Hear more at this radio interview about my presentation). I’ll be covering the newest forms of prenatal testing; what the professional guidelines recommend for each; the impact the current administration of prenatal testing is having both on the Down syndrome population and on society’s view of those with Down syndrome; and, what bioethical arguments have been made concerning prenatal testing for Down syndrome. If you’re attending the convention, I hope to see you at my session.
If you can’t make it and would still like to hear my or the many other informative sessions, NDSC will be recording the sessions and they are available for purchase via this link.