Q. My 3 year old son has been diagnosed with down’s syndrome. He understands instructions. How can I help him flourish with this condition?
KU: A flattened face , almond shaped eyes, short neck, small ears, a tongue that sticks out of the mouth, small hands and feet, palmer creases may be the visible physical traits in a child with Down Syndrome. First described by Langdon Down, is associated with moderate to severe mental retardation. It is a condition that creates irreversible limitations on survivability, intellectual achievement and competence in managing life tasks. Adaptive abilities seem to decrease with increasing age, especially after 40.
Despite their problems, children with Down Syndrome are usually able to learn self- help skills that enable them to be assistance in a family or institutional setting.
Traditional view holds that children with these symptom are unusually placid and affectionate. The quality of their social life depends on both IQ level and supportive home environment. They also manifest less maladaptive behavior than other learning disabilities.
Like most kids Down syndrome kids tend to do well with routine. They also respond well to positive support than discipline. Keep these things in mind and :
- Give your child chores around the house, just break them into small steps and be patient
- Have your child play with other kids who do or do not have Down syndrome
- Keep your expectations high as your child tries and learns new things
- Take out time to play, read , have fun and go out together. Dine out together with him.
- Support your child in doing day to day tasks on their own.
- Create a daily routine and stick to it as best as you can. They learn quite well with
conditioning. Use pictures to make a daily schedule your child can see.
- Help your child change from one activity to the next with very clear instructions and signals.
- Avoid saying “it’s wrong “ rather encourage by saying “try again”, or “try like this” offer help
- While working with doctors, therapists or teachers focus on child’s need rather than on the
- Carefully understand the topics taken in school try to work on the issues at home.
- Speak to your child in simple comprehendible language.
- Give some independence to your child, let them make choices if it makes sense, eg choose
their clothes what they want to wear.
- Help them taking risks and handle them with care, eg. carrying a tray with glass mugs
- Giving support in problem solving as to how to deal with an issue, don’t fix it for them
rather help them do it themselves.
- Reading of simple easy language stories and helping to write might help in passing time
- Make them useful member of the family by giving them due importance.
To be able to train your child consult an expert, to understand child’s need, capacity and the
learning style. Be less anxious go for your own counseling sessions it will be useful for both the
child and you. s
Student counsellor and has expertise in teaching psychology, career counselling, stress management and gender issues. Kavita is also an expert practitioner in marital counselling, life skills, interaction with community, research and tool construction.
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