Today is World Down Syndrome Day, where people around the world celebrate the lives and achievements of people with Down syndrome. In honour of this day and individuals living with Down syndrome, we would like to talk about some ways that they can be supported.
What is Down syndrome?
Down syndrome is one of the most commonly known chromosomal disorders, where one in every 700-900 babies born will have this condition. Although it is known how Down syndrome occurs, it’s unclear how it happens and why. Generally, individuals with Down syndrome display the following:
Some characteristic physical features, such as; short in height, almond shaped eyes, a slimmer bridge to the nose, and sometimes a single crease in the middle of the palm.
Some health and developmental challenges. Most individuals with Down syndrome are slightly more at risk to develop health issues that the wider population have, such as heart, infections and hearing problems.
Some level of intellectual disability; however, this varies from person to person, so starting early with the correct help can make a difference
End of the day, it’s important to remember that no two people with Down syndrome are the same, and in most cases they are just like their family members rather than like someone else with Down syndrome.
The good news is, most young people with Down syndrome these days can lead a normal life in a community, and we can help make this happen!
Living a normal life
It’s common for parents to experience initial shock and anxiety when finding out their child has Down syndrome, however, majority of the parents’ feelings soon fade as they relatively quickly learn to adjust to this situation. It is important to remember that highs and lows are completely normal, and each family is different in how they think and cope.
Some things we recommend to help (for you and family):
Be united as a family, support each other and be on the same page
Attend support groups with other families who have children with Down syndrome
Seek professional help if you find yourself stuck or feeling too stressed and overwhelmed
Some things we recommend to help (for your child, family member, or friend with Down syndrome):
Treat them the same as you would their siblings, friends, co-workers, family members etc. This will allow them to feel as part of the society and not an ‘outcast’. This is very important for their development and confidence
Take them to the same leisure activities and educational activities as others around their age
Some people with Down syndrome can find speaking to be difficult which can be worsened by hearing problems they may have. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to provide them with speech therapy. The thing is, majority of people with Down syndrome can understand a lot more than they can articulate. A lot of the time their abilities are underestimated which can cause low confidence and frustration for them
Be patient. As some individuals with Down syndrome find it difficult to articulate words and show emotion the same way others in the community do, it’s important to recognise this and support them in what they are trying to express
Use the correct language. This one is very important. Language can empower individuals and limits stereotypes. Words, and the way we communicate, can make a difference to how a person is accepted in society and impacts on their quality of life. This means using the correct terminology and even tone of voice when talking about or to someone with Down syndrome.
After all, individuals with Down syndrome have the same desires and needs as we all do. They want a good life and safe place to live, have employment, be social with family and friends, intimacy and have a meaningful role in the community.
If you feel as though you’ve been doing what you can and feel as though you need further guidance then give us a call to make an appointment with one of our team of Psychologists.
Or if you feel that your child has some difficulties with speech, please come in and see one of our speech pathologists. They can provide a thorough assessment and provide the necessary treatment to help your child develop their full potential.
*Please note: some of the information is from Down Syndrome Australia