Caring, Understanding and Loving a Child with Down Syndrome
Down syndrome is a genetic or chromosomal condition, not a disease or an illness. A person or a child born with Down syndrome needs special care, understanding and attention. The condition causes several developmental problems, health issues and physical challenges. But with the recognition and research on the condition, care and societal awareness and acceptance have greatly improved in the recent years.
Do you have a child with Down syndrome?
Having a child with Down syndrome is no different - you might have extra challenges in caring and rearing for your baby, but you will have the same love, joy and delight as any parent blessed with a child. With the right care and unconditional love, your baby will grow up to be the person you brought him or her up to.
The key is in knowing as much as you can about the condition. Read, seek medical advice and join support groups. Knowing DS is your best tool to your child.
What Causes Down Syndrome?
Down syndrome is caused by the extra chromosome, the Trisomy 21, which the child is born with. Upon conception, a normal person would get 46 chromosomes, 23 from each parent. A child with Down Syndrome will have 47 total chromosomes instead of 46. The Trisomy 21 causes the developmental delays and physical features common to DS.
Is there a way to prevent and cure Down Syndrome?
Although the condition can be detected before birth, there is no possible way to prevent a child from having Down syndrome. The scientific and medical world of today cannot pinpoint how and why it happens. However, studies show that later pregnancies have higher occurrences of DS children. A mother on her mid-30s have a 1 in 400 chance of having a DS baby, women over 40 years old have a 1 in 100 chance, while women below 30 years old have a risk factor lower than 1 in 1,000.
Down syndrome and other genetic disorders can be detected in unborn babies. High-risk mothers can undergo prenatal screening and diagnostic tests. Once the baby is born, a blood or tissue test will confirm the diagnosis.
There is no known cure for Down syndrome. With proper care and attention, common diseases attributed to the condition can be cured, managed and prevented. But not DS.
Common Diseases Associated with Down Syndrome
One of the most common and serious medical conditions that come with DS is the heart condition. Around 50% of children born with DS have heart defect. Developing a pulmonary hypertension is another serious health concern. People with DS are more likely to develop digestive problems, hypothyroidism, asthma, obesity and sleeping disorders.
Babies with DS have a higher risk of developing leukaemia. Alzheimer’s disease is also common to develop among people with DS later in life. Most children with DS will have to deal with vision, vocal and hearing problems.
Because of the higher health risks, DS children should be regularly checked and monitored by health experts. Not all diseases are likely to afflict your child. In fact, most of the DS subsequent conditions are treatable, preventable and manageable.
Common Physical Challenges of Children with Down Syndrome
Kids with Down syndrome are born with weak muscle tone. This is apparent in their facial appearance, delayed motor skills development and soft muscular made up. This condition leads to delayed or stunted physical development.
Children with DS will grow slower and might develop spinal and orthopaedic problems. While other babies will stand, sit and walk on their own, DS children might need therapies, treatments and other interventions might be needed in order to develop certain motor skills.
Growing DS children need supportive clothes, braces and footwear to support their growing bones and muscles. Due to their weak muscles and unstable joints, growing DS children are prone to hip dislocation, spinal cord injury and flat footedness. Left unsupported, they have the tendency to develop excessive external hip rotation, clawing of the toes, plantar fasciitis, irregular gait and poor balance. Supportive and orthopedic shoes can minimise the effects, support growing and soft bones and tissues and improve balance and coordination.
Because of their dissimilarities to most children their age, DS kids are usually shy or withdrawn. They will also more likely to have speaking and learning difficulties, limited attention span and behavioural problems.
Help them live the Ordinary Life
Most people with DS enjoy a long and meaningful life. We can see them studying at school, having jobs and functioning as any normal and active members of society. Today, Down syndrome is just another condition that some people happen to be born with. Just like some people have curly hair, are taller than most or have a lovely singing voice, DS is something that makes a person special and unique.
Knowing all the challenges and uniqueness of someone with Down syndrome, we are now more able to address the problems and help the person live a better life.
Your home should be a safe haven for your child. Create a loving and understanding environment where your child can be comfortable and relaxed. Involve your other non-DS children in the care, support and understanding of their DS sibling.
Finding the right school can be a challenge. There are special education facilities in the country specifically designed for children with special needs. You also have the option of the protective home-schooling or enrolling and exposing them in regular schools. Let your child’s mental and emotional development help you decide. Always seek the advice of the experts before a major decision.
First Walkers offers a wide collection of supportive and orthopedic shoes for kids with Down syndrome. Although quality and your child’s comfort are our top priorities, we are also proud of our delightful and fun designs. Click here to check out our newest collection of supportive shoes.