Website Dedicated to Mother's Son for Down Syndrome Advocacy and Awareness
In early January, Sabrina Moyer launched a Facebook page inspired by her son Colton Ryder, who had been diagnosed with Down syndrome soon after his birth in September. The goal was to update family and friends about his growth and development. However, what started out as a personal website quickly turned into a vibrant journey of advocacy attracting thousands of fans nationwide. Hence the birth of Special Miracles (specialmiracles.com) – individuals genetically enhanced with the 21st chromosome.
"When my son's diagnosis was confirmed, I was devastated. I had no knowledge about Down syndrome. What came to my mind was the stereotypical image: Thick neck, protruding tongue, large staring eyes, mental retardation, and a multitude of health problems. Fear took over and my heart ached," Sabrina recalls. "I then decided to read and learn as much as I could about it and found out that it was the total opposite of what I had envisioned," she added.
Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal anomaly occurring about once in about every 733 births. Individuals who are born with Down syndrome have an extra copy of the 21st chromosome (Trisomy 21); thus, they have 47 chromosomes rather than 46. All the other chromosomes are the same as any other typically developing person, which is why they are more alike than different. The one extra chromosome however, is what creates great diversity regarding intellect, personal ability, creativity, talent and learning styles.
"I came to the realization that it was not a tragic event, it was a blessing and a life-changing experience, but I was also very saddened to learn that the termination rates of a pregnancy due to a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome are alarmingly over 90 percent," Moyer stated. "These prenatal tests are not 100 percent accurate, but out of fear and misconceptions and the pressure to have a 'normal' child, a high number of children diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome are not with us today to experience the joy of life," she added. "Special Miracles offers a window into the lives of thousands of families that have a loved one diagnosed with Down syndrome and it is not as scary as some think."
The goal of Special Miracles is to advocate and create awareness about Down syndrome, to offer support to parents who are new to the Down syndrome diagnosis, to share the wonderful things our loved ones with Down syndrome are doing and to advocate on behalf of those who cannot advocate for themselves - those who are diagnosed prenatally. Education is a must in order to eradicate the fear that any new or expectant parent and family has about Down syndrome.