Down syndrome has three different types of occurrence, Trisomy 21, Translocation, and Mosaicism. Trisomy 21 is the most common one and it accounts for 95% of all cases. It is a congenital disorder which consists of having a whole extra chromosome in the 21st pair of chromosomes in every cell of the body; the person ends up having 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46. Down syndrome was named after Dr. John Langdon Down, an English Physician, who, in 1866, was the first ever to describe the characteristic physical features of this disorder. And it is a considered a syndrome because it is a condition in which many features occur all together. Down syndrome in general is a very common given that for every 700 born babies 1 will have this disorder, and the chances increase with age of the mother (Figure 1). For unknown reasons, trisomy 21 is more common in girls than it is in boys.
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In the last 30 years, the life expectancy of people with Down syndrome has more than doubled, with an average of 60 years as of today. Even though it is a huge milestone, it still is below the average of people not leaving with Down syndrome. The reason for this is the different medical problems that come with Down syndrome like: mental retardation, cardiac defects, growth retardation, immune system deficiency, thyroid dysfunction, and seizure disorders, just to name a few. (NDSS) So what kind of training is given to these patients to help them succeed and be as self-sufficient as possible?
Not all cases of this disorder are the same and therefore there is no set timeline for the skills that these children should acquire, but there are steps that parents can somewhat follow to help their children’s development. The first step to be able to help a child with Down syndrome is to be prepared; it is key to train the parents and care givers how to handle the child. Even perfectly normal children can sometimes experience delay in developing motor skills. Children with Down syndrome will take longer to get to the individual developmental stages, and the period of time they remain there will also be lengthier. (Selikowitz, 42). During the first few months, babies with Down syndrome tend to sleep a lot and remain inactive.(Cunningham 243) Parents should encourage their babies to be active; this does not mean they should wake them up but they should play with them and use hand gestures in the periods of time when they are awake. “…by the end of the first year he may be able to sit up alone briefly, and by his second birthday he may be able to pull up to stand and possibly take a few steps.” (Bruni 17). Even for normal kids, family activity influences positively in their development, and the same goes for kids with Down syndrome. Doctors encourage parents and caregivers to give the kids puzzles that require taking pieces apart and then putting them back into designated places, toys with bright colors, knobs, and buttons.
Introducing the toddler to routines such as getting ready in the morning, can be very helpful even though they might not be able to do it on their own.