Down syndrome, which is also referred to as Trisomy 21, is caused by genetics, a condition in which there is an extra copy of chromosome 21. This causes a delay in the child’s development. It can cause physical and emotional problems and differences. It’s not very common in births, but it something concerning for parents, caretakers, relatives, and friends of those who suffer from Down syndrome.
I have personally taught children who had (DS) Down syndrome. I was a substitute teacher for children with special needs, and a lot of them there suffered from it. I found out through parents that Down syndrome is named after John Langdon Down, a doctor who first recognized the condition. Each child is different when it comes to this condition. I noticed some had more physical defects than others. Some were very smart, and only experienced the mild form of the condition, while others were worse off.
A lot of parents that had children experiencing the condition were older when they were pregnant. The risk of having a child born with DS, increases with age. Most kids I worked with had similar features. They had a flat face, eyes that were slanted, their tongues were thicker, and the ears were smaller along with more of them overweight. For the children that had the more severe form of the condition, a lot of them were not walking and talking by the age that kids normally do these things. One child was four years old and he wasn’t able to communicate. Dealing with special needs children can be very challenging, but also rewarding when milestones are met.
Some kids had to still wear diapers, and be taken to the potty at 6 because they were not fully capable of doing it themselves yet. It’s very sad to see that these delays, and I can understand parent’s hardships when raising a child with DS. However, despite the delays ranging from mild to severe these children are still intellectual. They can still function and understand even if not being able to speak. They have great potential, and with extra care and time these children can go on to lead normal lives. They can do anything that regular children can do with practice and patience in helping them overcome their obstacles.
Here are a few tips that I learned while working at the center to help kids with Down syndrome.
1. Reflect a positive attitude despite challenges the child may face. Encouragement is key!
2. Find their strengths and develop them along with their weaknesses.
3. Seek support when overwhelmed or frustrated. Never take it out on the child.
4. Give lots of affection, understanding and support to the child.
5. Regularly go to doctor’s appointment to follow up.
6. Having an educational, occupational, speech, physical therapist is very helpful in advancing development.
7. Make goals and follow through with them.