AUTHOR: MORRIS

HED:Down Syndrome group forms in NE Miss.

By M. Scott Morris

Daily Journal

A support group for parents of children with Down syndrome in Northeast Mississippi is seeking new members.

The group was founded a few months ago and includes 15 families, said Joanna Kirkpatrick, one of the groups cofounders.

"I was involved in a very active group in Nashville," Kirkpatrick said. "When we moved here, we were amazed there was no support group in the area."

Down syndrome is a genetic condition caused by extra genetic material from the 21st chromosome.

The condition can cause speech problems, ear deformities, gastrointestinal problems, heart abnormalities and eye difficulties as well as developmental disabilities.

"Not every child is going to have the same problems," said Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick said support group members compare notes in an effort to provide the best care for their children

She said it's important to find health care providers who understand the nature of Down syndrome and who will also treat the child as an individual.

"The No. 1 thing is finding education for your child and that can be your greatest challenge," said Kirkpatrick, whose 21-month-old son, Spencer, has Down syndrome.

For more information about the Down Syndrome Support Group, contact Kirkpatrick at (601) 680-9249 at home or (601) 690-3200 at work.

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