Welcome to Illinois

31 for 21 in retrospect

Posted in This blog by Matt at WelcometoIllinois on October 31, 2008

When I decided to take part in the 31 for 21 challenge I don’t think I’d really thought through what would be involved.

Blogging every day for the month of October in an attempt to raise awareness of Down’s syndrome meant an increase in my blogging output, of course, but I was forgetting that I would be returning to work and would also face the loss of sleep involved with having a one-month-old a and two-year-old. I’m exhausted!

Still, it’s been an education, and I’m glad I took part.

Two topics have dominated the last month for me. The first is disability as an issue in the US election. I compared the two parties’ policies here, ranted about Sarah Palin here, and gave her a (very) little bit of credit here.

The other major issue was ante-natal testing for Down’s syndrome. I wrote about new non-invasive testing research, the importance of accuracy, the wider debate prompted by DNA testing, and the question of whether screening for Down’s syndrome is ethical.

Another significant issue was research into learning disability, including the role of Siberian hamsters and the potential role of pentylenetetrazole, or PTZ in improving memory.

Also covered was the potential use of drugs used to treat patients with Alzheimer’s to improve the cognitive abilities of people with Down’s syndrome, a study to compare literacy intervention approaches, and the funding of Down’s syndrome research.

Then there was the matter of blogs that take a negative view Down’s syndrome and the conversation with AC of End Down Syndrome that followed.

I enjoyed taking the opportunity to educate AC a little given my limited experience with Down’s syndrome, and I think the conversation justified covering a difficult topic. I also enjoyed tackling AC’s question on the matter of gene therapy.

I also finally had a chance to see Tropic Thunder for myself and report first hand on the controversy, or lack of it.

There was bad news for the Down’s Syndrome Association, and good news for DownsEd.

I also took a look at the Down’s syndrome-related information and range of disability support services available to new parents in the UK.

I even opened up a bit with details on our feelings following the birth of our little boy, our first trip to A&E and my first day back at work, although I ultimately decided to remain anonymous.

Not that I was up for posting every day, and I cheated a bit by publishing excerpts of an article in The Times, a note about my blog stats, and also wrote about Christmas cards, and T-shirt slogans.

And I never did write that follow-up to this post on the genetics of Down’s syndrome.

Still, there’s always next week. Just as Down Syndrome Awareness Month ends in the US, Down Syndrome Awareness Week begins in Canada.

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