Tuesday, 30 August 2011

How To Raise A Child With Down Syndrome

What is Down Syndrome (DS)?
DS is a lifelong genetic condition that affects about 1 baby in every 730 in the world. The name comes from John Langdon Down, an English physician who published the first accurate description of the syndrome in 1866. In 1959, the French geneticist Jeróme Le-jeune discovered that DS babies were born with an extra chromosome in their cells, for a total of 47 rather than 46. Later researchers found out that the extra chromosome was a copy of chromosome 21.

Children with DS have varying degrees of learning and language disabilities as well as impair motor skills ranging from mild to severe. They also mature at a slower pace emotionally, socially and intellectually.

To what extent does this condition effect a child’s learning ability?
Jason, who has DS explain in a book Count Us In – Growing Up With Down Syndrome, he co-authored, “I don’t think it’s a handicap. It’s a disability for what you are learning because you are learning slowly. It’s not that bad”. Each child with a DS is different and has his own talents. In fact some of them are capable of learning enough to become active members of the society and enjoy a fulfilling life.

Nothing can be done to prevent this genetic disorder either before or during pregnancy. DS is nobody’s fault.

What To Do To Help A Child With DS

1. Coming to terms with reality
Coming to terms with DS is not easy. This may include thought that others would not like to associate with you. This feelings of grief and uncertainty usually last for some time. But the best approach is to resolved to stop feeling sorry for oneself and dwelling on negative thoughts. Rather concentrate on making efforts on helping the child to progress to the greatest extent possible.

2. Making things work for the child
The most successful way to train a DS is to start by loving him first. Every other thing comes after that, recommended by experts from a DS association. According to Professor Sue Buckley, “Individuals with DS are people first”, their development is influenced by the quality of care, education and social experience offered to them, just like all other people. During the last three decades learning techniques used to help children with DS have improved a great deal. Therapists advise parents to include these children in all their family activities and to help them through play and early intervention programs to develop their skills. Such programs – which should start soon after birth – include physiotheraphy, speech therapy and extra personal attention, along with emotional support for the child and the family. Taking into account his limitations.

Progress may be slow. Babies with DS may not say their first words until two or three years of age. Their frustration at not being able communicate may make them cry or become bad tempered. Nevertheless, parents can teach them some “Pre-language skills” for instance, they might use a simple signing method, accompanied by gestures and visual aids. In a way, the child can convey important needs such as “drink”, “more”, “finished”, “food” and “bed”.

Each year more children with DS attend a mainstream school and join in social activities with siblings and friends. Though learning is more difficult for them, but going to school with children of their age seems to have helped some fend for themselves, interest with others and progress.

Since they develop more slowly, the gap between DS children and their peers becomes wider with age. Nevertheless, some experts still advise that they go to a regular school for secondary education provided that the teachers and parents are in agreement and the additional learning support is available.

3. Satisfaction outweighs the sacrifices.
Rearing a child with DS is not an easy task. It requires much time, efforts and dedication, as well as patience and realistic expectations. Parents and siblings should learn to be less selfish and appreciate every efforts a child with DS made to getting things done.

The satisfaction derived from seeing a child with DS improve daily truly outweighs the sacrifices.

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