Expanding a family and bringing a child into being is a major decision. Becoming a family will change how a person thinks, acts, and looks at the world. But what if that child came into this world with development issues? A child born with Down syndrome can cause emotional issues for the parents as well as any siblings in the family. An infant can be diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth; it is one of a few disorders that portray physical characteristics which help to identify the disorder. Down syndrome can affect the child’s social, intellectual, and emotional development, which will bring challenges, as well as rewards, for the child’s parents and siblings.
Down syndrome is a chromosomal abnormality also called trisomy-21; most often it is caused by an extra 21st chromosome, although sometimes it may be caused a rearranging of the genetic material within the chromosome. Down syndrome causes delayed development and can also cause congenital heart defects, gastro-intestinal disorders, congenital heart defects, thyroid dysfunction, chronic airway infections, as well as visual and hearing impairments (Papalia, Diane E., Feldman, Ruth Duskin, & Martorell, Gabriela, 2012; van Gameren-Oosterom, H. M., Fekkes, M., Buitendijk, S. E., Mohangoo, A. D., Bruil, J., & Wouwe, J. 2011; van Gameren-Oosterom, H. M, Fekkes, M, Buitendijk S. E, Mohangoo A. D, Bruil J, & Wouwe J. 2011). Children with Down syndrome have intellectual impairment as well as delayed cognitive and motor development, they are also afflicted with speech and concentration problems as well as social withdrawal, disobedient behavior, depression, anger issues, attention deficit and personality changes as they age (van Gameren-Oosterom, H. M., Fekkes, M., Buitendijk, S. E., Mohangoo, A. D., Bruil, J., & Wouwe, J. 2011; van Gameren-Oosterom, et al.,2011; Davis, A.S., 2008).
Beginning at birth the cerebral cortex is slower and more restricted in development in infants with Down syndrome as opposed to their more normally developing counterparts. This is demonstrated in difficulties of basic processes such as learning, memory, language development and the expression of emotions (Carvajal, F., & Iglesias, J., 2002). Smiling, laughter, and negative emotions begin later than in normally developing infants and present with a lower frequency and less intensity. Even though infants with Down syndrome do not function in the same way as normally developing infants, their emotional development is adaptive ,organized and develops in a similar way to normally developing infants. Studies have shown that beginning at birth there are distinctive facial expressions for surprise, anger, joy, fear, and disgust in infants with Down syndrome in much the same way as their normally developing counterparts. When an infant with Down syndrome becomes excited, upset or aroused in any manner they have more difficulty calming back down than typically developing infants(Carvajal, F., & Iglesias, J., 2002) .