Sunday, October 28, 2007

Elements of Down's Syndrome

Thought it would be good to provide my readers with basic general knowledge of some of the types of disabilities I have commonly come across in school.

A well known & most common one is Down's Syndrome or Trisomy 21. It is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 21st chromosone. It is named after John Langdon Down, the British doctor who 'discovered' it.

Often, Down's Syndrome is associated with some impairment in cognitive ability & physical growth as well as facial appearance. Down syndrome can be identified during pregnancy or at birth. Individuals with Down's Syndrome can have a lower than average cognitive ability, often ranging from mild to moderate learning disabilities.

Some common physical features of Down's Syndrome may include:
(1) A single transverse palmar crease (a single instead of a double crease across one or both palms)
(2) An almond shape to the eyes caused by an epicanthic fold of the eyelid
(3) Upslanting palpebral fissures,
(4) Shorter limbs (floppiness)
(5) Poor muscle tone
(6) Protruding tongue.

Health concerns for individuals with Down syndrome include a higher risk for congenital heart defects, gastroesophageal reflux disease, recurrent ear infections, obstructive sleep apnea, and thyroid dysfunctions.

Early intervention during childhood, screening for common problems, medical treatment where indicated, a conducive family environment & vocational training can improve the overall development of children with Down syndrome. Although some of the physical genetic limitations of Down's Syndrome cannot be overcome, education & proper care will improve quality of life.

In my next entry, I shall share with you all my experience working with children with Down's Syndrome - my little darlings! :)