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Down Syndrome Awareness MonthOctober is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

"October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, a chance to spread awareness.  During the month of October, we celebrate people with Down syndrome and make people aware of our abilities and accomplishments.  It’s not about celebrating disabilities, it’s about celebrating abilities.” ~ Chris Burke

Christopher Joseph "Chris" Burke is a American actor and folk singer who has Down syndrome. He has become best known for his character Charles "Corky" Thacher on the television series Life Goes On.

Down Syndrome affects about 1 in 700 births in the United States. National Down Syndrome Society observes Down Syndrome Month every October as "a forum for dispelling stereotypes, providing accurate information, and raising awareness of the potential of individuals with Down syndrome."

Down syndrome is by far the most common and best known chromosomal disorder in humans and the most common cause of intellectual disability. It is characterized by mental retardation, dysmorphic facial features, and other distinctive phenotypic traits. Down syndrome is primarily caused by trisomy of chromosome 21; this is the most common trisomy among live births. The term mongolism was once commonly used but is now considered obsolete.

For many, every day is a chance to promote Down syndrome awareness—advocating for their children to be included in school and community activities, highlighting their talents, giving them opportunities to show just how much they have to share. The calendar, however, provides us all with one month during the year when we all can really step up those efforts.

Click here to learn more about Down Sydrome.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities.

Held annually, National Disability Employment Awareness Month is led by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, but its true spirit lies in the many observances held at the grassroots level across the nation every year. Employers of all sizes and in all industries are encouraged to participate in NDEAM.

The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

"We all have a role to play in — and benefit to gain from — increasing opportunities for meaningful employment for people with disabilities. This year's theme encapsulates this in three powerful words. It conveys that advancing disability employment is about much more than just hiring. It's about creating a continuum of inclusion. And the first step on this continuum is expectation," said Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy when announcing this year's National Disability Employment Awareness Month theme, which is "Expect. Employ. Empower."

Click here to read President Obama's NDEAM Proclamation.

The ADRC of Dane County provides information about resources and support on all aspects of life related to aging or living with a disability and is a one-stop shop for older adults, people with disabilities and their families. ADRC staff are unbiased and knowledgeable professionals who listen to your concerns, help clarify your options and direct you to appropriate resources. The ADRC is also the access point for information about long-term care options and applying for public benefits. Services provided by the ADRC are free and available to all Dane County residents regardless of income or assets.

ADRC staff are available weekdays from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. by calling 608-240-7400. Individuals can also send email inquiries to adrc@countyofdane.com, drop by our office on North Sherman Avenue or visit us at www.daneadrc.org. Home visits are available upon request.