Down or Down’s Syndrome (DS) is caused due to a chromosomal abnormality caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21. It results in a delay in cognitive ability including mental retardation and could also affect physical growth.
Down Syndrome is also one of the most common causes of human birth defects. Children born with Down Syndrome often have heart defects and hearing difficulty. They might also possess certain features such as slanting eyes or a flattened nose.
Nashik-based Dr Dnyandeo Chopade, President of the Down’s Syndrome Care Association (DSCA), India, and Director of Genetic Health and Research Centre, Nashik, offers a few tips for parents of children with Down Syndrome:
. Parents need to be equipped with the knowledge to deal with situations that may occur with a child with Down Syndrome.
.They must accept the child as they are.
.They must be prepared to take them for therapy, to doctors and special educators.
.They must be equipped to act as a teacher and basic doctor when necessary. For example — such children often face recurrent infections and parents can be prepared to pay special attention towards symptoms of infection for early detection.
. Parents can also act as primary special educators for such children and help them in physiotherapy and speech therapy.
. While they may face health issues in terms of weak muscles, a low immune system, heart disease and thyroid deficiencies, parents can ensure they go for routine check-ups and any deficiencies are detected early.
. Check-ups that must be routinely conducted are blood tests, opthalmic tests, ENT and thyroid check-ups, as such children tend to develop deficits throughout life.
. In terms of emotional intelligence, children with Down Syndrome are as intelligent as normal children. Hence, their EQ must be tapped and parents must ensure their abilities are brought forth.