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WORLD DOWN SYNDROME DAY - LET'S GIVE THEM A SENSE OF PRIDE!

22-Mar-2015.By: Admin

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Think about this, if you have ever, as a parent, sibling, relative or friend looked down, neglect or pay less attention and care to any child with Down syndrome, then you need to hurriedly retrace your steps, apologize to that child and do everything to give him or her the supports and care he or she deserves.

What are we talking about here? It’s simple! There urgent and fundamental need for a global attitudinal change towards children with Down syndrome, in order not to deprive this group of people their God-given right to opportunities and choices.

Down syndrome is among the most common genetic birth abnormalities. It is a chromosomal condition that leads to a combination of birth abnormalities and occurs when a fertilized egg has an extra chromosome. In normal conditions, a fertilized egg has 23 pairs of chromosomes. A child with Down syndrome has an extra copy of chromosome 21. A child with Down syndrome typically, is born with mental and physical symptoms that range from mild to severe. Generally, his or her physical and cognitive development will be delayed.

So what? Children with Down syndrome nearly always have physical and intellectual disabilities. Yes, as adults, their mental abilities are typically similar to those of kids and their IQ is generally low. Agreeably, they also characteristically have low immune performance and usually reach developmental milestones at a later age. They are also reported to have an increased risk of a number of other health complications, including congenital heart disease, leukemia, thyroid disorders, and mental illness, among others.

Well, maybe these are not profiles that should encourage one to want to give everything to ensure the child’s well being, especially when there are other children without DS to focus on. But on the flip side, are these challenges not enough concern to the child to make him or her deserve all the support and care from parents and relatives? Should they be subjected to rejection, neglect, low self-esteem and stigmatization because of abnormalities that they know nothing about?

That people with Down Syndrome face many challenges as children and adults, which may prevent them from enjoying their basic human rights is worrisome. This has to change and the society must make efforts to help these people have a better experience.

Children with Down syndrome have opportunities and Choices. They deserve all the care, tenderness, support and love that regular kids enjoy. Guess what? They deserve even more. They are calling out loud in their silence, for opportunities and choices. Opportunity to become what they want to become, opportunities to live their dreams, opportunities to get all necessary education to harness their God-given potential, and opportunities of general health and wellbeing that will help them to develop adequately and become better adult.

Big question are we going to deny them these opportunities?

March 21, 2015 marks the anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day and each year the voice of people with Down syndrome, and those who live and work with them, grows louder. Down Syndrome International advocates that People with Down syndrome, on an equal basis with other people, must be able to enjoy full and equal rights, both as children and adults with ‘opportunities’ and ‘choices’.

The organization maintained that many people often fail to understand that people with Down syndrome are people first, who may require additional support, but should be recognized by society on an equal basis with others, without discrimination on the basis of disability.

This is a crucial call for equal status and development of people living with Down Syndrome in society. We need to provide necessary supports, advocate for opportunities and choices and empower people with Down syndrome to express their own views and make their own decisions, as well as advocate for themselves.

Knowing about Down Syndrome and how to take care of people with DS is essential, especially considering that people with Down Syndrome experience learning difficulties that lead to delays in many areas of development.

However, Down Syndrome Education International observed that not all areas of development are affected equally - there are particular patterns of learning difficulties. These patterns can inform more effective teaching approaches and therapies based on their developmental profile, which includes their strength and weaknesses. We therefore need to understand the difference in development and learning for children with Down syndrome in order to be able to plan a more effective teaching methods and therapies.

Focusing on their strengths:

One of the strengths of people with Down syndrome is their Social development. Their social functioning is said to be relatively less delayed than other areas of their development. They are still able to look at faces and smile only a week or two later than other children and they are usually sociable infants. As infants, they also enjoy communicating and usually make good use of non-verbal skills, including babbling and gesture in social situations. Most children and adults with Down syndrome continue to develop good social skills and appropriate social behaviour, though a significant minority may develop difficult behaviours, particularly those with the greatest delays in speech and language development.

Another strength is that they learn with visual supports. People with Down syndrome learn better when they can see things illustrated. This parents an guardian have opportunities to teach them more effectively, because teaching is more effective when information is presented with the support of pictures, gestures or objects. They can also develop reading abilities in advance of what might be expected for their cognitive and language levels.

Understanding their weaknesses;

Children with Down syndrome struggle with the development of their motor skills. Poor oral motor control may impact the development of language skills. Children with Down syndrome may also demonstrate specific delays in learning to use spoken language relative to their non-verbal understanding. Almost every child will have expressive language that is delayed relative to their language comprehension. The gap between the children’s understanding and their ability to express themselves is a cause of much frustration and can sometimes lead to behaviour problems. It can also result in the children’s cognitive abilities being underestimated. Most of them also struggle with basic number skills and their number skills are typically some 2 years behind their reading skills.

The ability of children with Down syndrome to hold and process verbal information is not as good as their ability to hold and process visual information. These verbal short-term memory problems make it more difficult to learn new words and sentences. They also make it more difficult to process spoken language and this can adversely affect learning in the classroom.

It is therefore important to use visual supports including pictures, signs and print when teaching children with Down syndrome as this approach makes full use of their stronger visual memory skills. 


Last Updated: 30-Jun-2016 07:39 PM

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