• What is DS?
    Archie David, occupational therapist, professor, and executive director of the Independent Living and Learning Center (ILLC) for Special Needs Children in Wack Wack, Mandaluyong City, defines Down’s syndrome as a genetic disorder including a combination of birth defects, causing delays in learning and development. This occurs because the baby’s cells contain an extra copy of chromosome 21.

    Characteristics include: excess skin at the nape; flatter than average back of the head; and a small mouth, making the tongue appear large. “They normally have hypotonia (soft muscle tone), so they have difficulty maintaining proper body alignment,” says Professor David.


    What should I prepare for?

    1. Delays in motor skills development
    Children with DS often have short arms and legs, making it SIMG_0172_CONTENT_IMAGE.jpg

    What is DS?
    Archie David, occupational therapist, professor, and executive director of the Independent Living and Learning Center (ILLC) for Special Needs Children in Wack Wack, Mandaluyong City, defines Down’s syndrome as a genetic disorder including a combination of birth defects, causing delays in learning and development. This occurs because the baby’s cells contain an extra copy of chromosome 21.

    Characteristics include: excess skin at the nape; flatter than average back of the head; and a small mouth, making the tongue appear large. “They normally have hypotonia (soft muscle tone), so they have difficulty maintaining proper body alignment,” says Professor David.


    What should I prepare for?

    1. Delays in motor skills development
    Children with DS often have short arms and legs, making it harder for motor/movement skills to fully develop.

    “They have a good prognosis for being able to walk independently by the age of 2 years. They are likely to be able to speak, but manifest some articulation problems,” explains Professor David.

     

    2. Learning disabilities can be expected
    Arlene Reyes, special education teacher at Community of Learners School for Children in New Manila, Quezon City, says kids with DS will express interest in joining in and imitate what parents and caregivers are doing, but it will take them longer to become skilled at it, needing more help and support.

    3. Learning difficulties
    Children with DS learn better through observation, also finding it easier to learn to talk if their main words are signed and spoken, although they easily forget new skills just learned. So parents need to patiently repeat what they’re teaching the child.

    4. Physical problems
    More than half of children with Down’s syndrome are born with a heart or bowel problem; surgery may be imperative.


    Where can I get help?
    The silver lining is that today’s quality of health care and early intervention programs for children with Down’s syndrome has greatly improved, with programs including speech and physiotherapy, as well as support groups.

    Always involve your baby in family activities—play with her as you would with any child. She may not be as responsive, but it is still important to talk to her all the time, and respond to her noises.

    Will my child enjoy a full life?
    Special activities may be of great help to the child’s development, but they are unlikely to be the main influence on the child’s development.

    Professor David says, “Still, the best experiences for a baby with Down’s Syndrome come from a happy, loving, and active family.”

     

    SOURCES:

        Archie David, MoccThy, O.T.R.P., occupational therapist, professor, and executive director, Independent Living and Learning Center (ILLC) for Special Needs Children
        Arlene Reyes, special education teacher, Community of Learners School for Children, New Manila, Quezon City
        Susan Castañeda, R.N.
        Need To Know-Down’s Syndrome by Kristina Routh
        Babies with Down’s Syndrome - A New Parent’s Guide by Karen Stray-Gunderson
        Living with Down’s Syndrome by Sue Buckley

     


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