Do you have a brother or sister with Down Syndrome? If so, please read on.

Danbury High School senior Olivia Alessandro has a 10-year-old brother named Luke with Down syndrome, which occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. The extra genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down Syndrome.

Growing up with her brother Luke taught Olivia about his special needs. You could say it was, 'learn as you go.' She realized that there just wasn't that much support for the brothers and sisters of children with Down syndrome which triggered her idea to create a nationwide hotline called, Siblings' First Call. This is what Olivia told the Danbury Patch:

I think it is important to share the experience of having a sibling with Down syndrome and show that their diagnosis will not define them.

The hotline is being supported by The Down Syndrome Association of CT (DS ACT) which offers support and guidance for those who have a family member with Down syndrome. The hotline number is 888-486-8573. Olivia's Alessandro's new duties are communicating with family members who might have questions or need support. She went on to say:

They, too, can excel in school, be social and important community members. Hearing how families work with their children may lessen any fears and feelings of the unknown they may have for their new siblings.

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