Introduction and definition
Down syndrome is an illness that is as a result of gene problems that occur before birth. It is normally categorized as a mental and physical illness (“Down Syndrome-Topic Overview” n.d). The child with Down syndrome is born having an extra chromosome. It is this extra chromosome that causes late development in a child. This illness can be spotted through the identification of the affected physical features (“Down Syndrome-Topic Overview” n.d). Another name used to refer to this illness is Trisomy 21 (“About Down Syndrome” n.d.).
Children that suffer from Down syndrome have a short neck and a flat face. Their intellectual capability is low. However, the attributes of this illness vary from person to person.
It is important to note that Down syndrome is a lifetime condition. This means that it exists throughout the child’s life. Therefore, it is good to ensure that the child is well supported and cared for in order to be able to live a similar life to the rest of the people. However, there are some kids with Down syndrome that are not able to lead a normal and healthy life as the rest. Some of the children born with Down syndrome have also intestine, breathing or even heart problems (“Down Syndrome-Topic Overview” n.d). Studies have shown that people with Down syndrome have a probability of developing Alzheimer’s disease. It is thought that the gene encoding amyloidal precursor protein has a major role in the Alzheimer’s disease pathology. This, in turn, may lead to the occurrence of dementia (Wiseman, Al-Janabi, Hard, Karmiloff-Smith, Nizetic, Tybulewicz,& Strydom 2015)
These conditions may lead various complications in the child’s life. Even though there exists no cure for Down syndrome, the illness can be identified before a child is born. This assists the family to prepare and be able to offer the required resources and care needed to support the child.
Causes of Down syndrome
During childbirth, the baby takes over the genetic information from the parents. This information is in form of 46 chromosomes where 23 are from the father and the other 23 from the mother. However, for the case of a child with Down syndrome, the baby inherits an extra chromosome making the total to be 47 instead of 46 chromosomes. Research shows that Down syndrome occurs mostly in a woman that conceives while above the age of 35(“About Down Syndrome” n.d.).
Diagnosis and treatment
Pregnant women during pregnancy are offered screening for Down syndrome. It is important to note that sometimes the results of the screening may show a high risk for Down syndrome whereas there is none in the baby. Other times there may be a false negative result for Down syndrome (“Down syndrome” n.d.).There is the use of nuchal translucency where performing an ultra screening for Down syndrome. During this screening, there is concentration on evaluating the space between the spine and the baby’s neck. For a baby with Down syndrome, there is more fluid in the neck than normal.
When diagnosing Down syndrome, there is also the use of antenatal tests. These tests include chorionic villus sampling done after ten weeks of pregnancy. There is also the amniocentesis that is performed after fifteen weeks of pregnancy (“Down syndrome” n.d.). The tests have a small risk of causing a miscarriage due to the need of inserting a needle into the fluid surrounding the fetus for the purposes of evaluating the chromosomes of the baby.
After the baby is born and physical attributes of Down syndrome are identified, a genetic test is performed. This test is referred to as karyotype which assists in the confirmation of Down syndrome. It consists of testing a small amount of blood from the baby (“Down syndrome” n.d.).
As for treatment of Down syndrome, it is important to know that there is no cure. However, children with Down syndrome can have productive lives. It is important for the children with Down syndrome to receive a regular hearing and sight tests. They should also be checked for thyroid problems and get the normal immunizations offer during childhood (“Down syndrome” n.d.).
After birth echocardiogram should be done since there may be a probability that a child with Down syndrome has heart problems. This ensures that the baby is treated as the heart problem may be cured. Also, treatment for hypothyroidism can be offered. Thyroid disease has a 50 percent chance of occurrence in a child with Down syndrome. Hypothyroidism is a thyroid condition which means having an underactive thyroid gland (“Down syndrome” n.d.).
Research has shown that individuals with Down syndrome have a 56 percent chance of getting leukemia (“Down syndrome” n.d.).It is said to develop within the first three years in a child’s life. However, there exists treatment for the developed leukemia. Prevention There exist no scientific way to prevent the occurrence of Down syndrome. However, some studies have shown that women that have children with Down syndrome had a complication in the manner which their bodies processed folic acid. This means that pregnant women should take a vitamin supplement with 400 micrograms of folic acid if the findings are confirmed true.
Organizations to support families
Since there have been many cases of Down syndrome occurrence, organizations have come forward to support families and individuals with Down syndrome. For instance, there exists a national association for Down syndrome.
The following are some of the associations that offer support:
- Special Olympics
- International Down Syndrome Coalition(IDSC)
- Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome(D.A.D.S.)(“Other Organizations Helping People with Down syndrome” 2012).
For children with Down syndrome, there exist various variations. However, there are common classroom implications for individuals with Down syndrome. One of the implications is the ability and want to study form the peers. The second implication is that an individual has short-term auditory memory (“Down’s Syndrome – Classroom strategies.” 2008).
This means the ability to be able to retain information presented orally is low. The third implication is the delay in speech and language. This, in turn, affects the ability to understand and to express them. The fourth implication is Down syndrome individuals have a low attention span. Another implication is that they have a delay in their motor skills. This is the ability to write or perform other physically demanding classroom activities. Lastly, there is great visual learning skills and visual awareness (“Down’s Syndrome – Classroom strategies.” 2008).
Strategies to work with Down syndrome children:
- It is important for teachers to work closely with the parents. This means the .parents and teachers should take down information concerning the child and exchange with each other daily.
- Encourage language development. The child should be addressed using simplified language together with the use of a visual expression.
- Creation of an inclusive classroom environment. This means a Down syndrome student should be included socially in all educational activities rather than being excluded (“Down’s Syndrome – Classroom strategies.” 2008).
- It is important to have classroom assistants for students with Down syndrome. It enables them to be able to learn properly together with other normal students.
Down’s Syndrome – Classroom strategies – SCoTENs Teacher Education Ireland. (2008, October 17). Retrieved from http://scotens.org/teaching-pupils-with-down%E2%80%99s-syndrome/
Other Organizations Helping People with Down Syndrome. (2012, February 21). Retrieved from https://www.globaldownsyndrome.org/about-down-syndrome/resources/other-organizations-helping-people-with-down-syndrome/
Down syndrome. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.boots.com/children/baby/guide/understanding-downs-syndrome-basics
About Down Syndrome. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/down-syndrome.html.
Down Syndrome-Topic Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/children/tc/down-syndrome-topic-overview#1
Wiseman, F. K., Al-Janabi, T., Hardy, J., Karmiloff-Smith, A., Nizetic, D., Tybulewicz, V. L., … & Strydom, A. (2015). A genetic cause of Alzheimer disease: mechanistic insights from Down syndrome. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 16(9), 564-574.2