There are parent associations in every département in France. For example, l’UNAPEI, Trisomie 21 France, Grandir à l’école, Fnaseph, Association trisalide, Reflet 21, Enzo 21, Aimet, Plateforme Grandir Ensemble, and many others. They speak for families with a Down syndrome child. Enquire at the town hall to learn about the existence of a parent association or other Down syndrome association.
First, these associations aim to prevent parent isolation. They help parents feel supported by other parents who have known the same difficulties. They help everyone to have the benefit of others’ experience.
They support, initiate or promote child development, leisure activities, holidays and sports activities. Often, they create assisted care structures and treatment that they go on to manage, for the most part.
Some support research to better understand illness mechanisms and to development new treatments or care. Others create amicable or spiritual communities for these persons and their families. Finally, they defend the rights of Down syndrome sufferers and generally anyone affected by intellectual disabilities, as very active representatives in public bodies in all areas concerning these children.
They have been very involved in all the discussions and commissions that resulted, in early 2005, in the new law for handicapped persons (the “handicap” law of 11th February 2005). The best-known and largest is surely the UNAPEI (National Union of Associations of Parents, Mentally Handicapped Persons and Their Friends).