If your child has Down syndrome, you may worry they won’t have the same resources and opportunities that their peers without Down syndrome have.
They may be struggling with certain behaviors at home.
Or maybe you’re worried that their school isn’t providing them with all of the tools they need to maximize their potential.
Your child with Down syndrome should be able to live a happy, independent, and fulfilled life.
Here at Little Feet Therapy, we can help. Among other pediatric therapy specialty services, we offer both pediatric physical therapy and pediatric occupational therapy treatments for Down syndrome. These treatments can help give your child the skills they need to live more fulfilling lives.
Read on to find out more about Down syndrome and how pediatric physical and occupational therapy could be a good fit for your family.
What Is Down Syndrome?
When a person is born with an extra copy of their 21st chromosome, this is called Down syndrome.
Down syndrome can cause many different physical and mental developmental delays in your child.
More than 6 million people worldwide have Down syndrome.
Though many of the disabilities associated with Down syndrome are lifelong, your child can still live a full life with this condition.
Cultural and institutional support are always improving, so your child with Down syndrome will have many tools to help with the challenges that this condition can pose.
There are three types of Down syndrome: trisomy 21, mosaicism, and translocation.
With trisomy 21, your child will have an extra copy of chromosome 21 in every cell.
Trisomy 21 is also known as nondisjunction, because it is caused by an error that occurs in cell division called nondisjunction.
This is the most common form of Down syndrome.
If your child is born with extra chromosomes in some but not all of their cells, this is called mosaicism.
Some cells will have 47 chromosomes instead of 46.
Mosaicism is associated with fewer symptoms than trisomy 21.
If your child has translocation type Down syndrome, it means they only have an extra part of chromosome 21.
While there are still 46 chromosomes in total, one of them has an extra piece of chromosome 21 attached to it.
This causes the characteristics of Down syndrome, though they are often more mild.
Down Syndrome Symptoms
Your child may have had certain features at birth which are considered characteristics of Down syndrome.
Flat facial features, a small head, and eyes that slant upward are all symptoms at birth.
A short neck, small or atypically shaped ears, a bulging tongue, and poor muscle tone are also characteristics a baby with Down syndrome may have at birth.
People with Down syndrome often have developmental disabilities, though they are usually mild or moderate.
Mental and social symptoms can include impulsive behavior, poor judgment, short attention span, or slow learning capabilities.
There are many medical complications that your child with Down syndrome may have or develop, which include things like congenital heart defects, hearing loss, poor vision and cataracts, hip problems, and obesity.
Leukemia, sleep apnea, dementia, hypothyroidism, late tooth growth, and greater risk for infections are also complications associated with Down syndrome.
What Causes Down Syndrome?
Down syndrome is the most common genetic disorder in the United States.
Down syndrome is caused when one of your baby’s chromosomes doesn’t separate properly.
When parents reproduce, they pass their genes, or chromosomes, onto their children.
Usually as the cells develop, they receive 23 chromosomes from each parent.
They should have 46 chromosomes in total, half from each parent.
Down syndrome occurs when your child ends up with three copies or an extra partial copy of chromosome 21, rather than two.
How Can Pediatric Physical Therapy For Down Syndrome Help?
Pediatric Physical Therapy can be a wonderful tool to assist your child with Down syndrome.
Physical therapists can help your child gain strength and develop movement skills that will counteract the challenges of this condition.
A pediatric physical therapist may focus on muscle strength, balance, and coordination.
Physical therapists may help improve strength with fun tasks and games, and adjust the routine as your child gets older.
Getting your child into a good strength and fitness routine can help them maintain their heart health.
A pediatric physical therapist can suggest changes to your home routine as well, to help maintain movement, development, and communication skills.
Your child’s balance, coordination, and posture can also be addressed by a physical therapist.
Your pediatric physical therapist will focus on making a fun training routine that will keep your child engaged with their peers and their own bodies.
How Can Pediatric Occupational Therapy For Down Syndrome Help?
Pediatric occupational therapy will focus more on helping your child with Down syndrome master the skills they will need to live an independent life.
This will include skills related to school performance, play, as well as occupational therapy for self care skills like feeding, grooming, and dressing themselves.
Occupational and physical therapists will work closely together to help your child with their fine motor skills.
Low muscle tone, decreased strength, and laxity in the joints and ligaments may make these motor skills hard for your child to develop on their own.
If your child is of the age to be in school, a pediatric occupational therapist can help with the skills they will need in the classroom, and even assess their classroom environment to make sure it suits their needs.
An occupational therapist can also address any concerns you may have about your child’s sensory development and behaviors.
Do pediatric occupational and physical therapy sound like they may be a good fit for you and your family?
If you’re hoping your child with Down syndrome can get the best tools to help them achieve independence and fulfillment, look no further. We can help.
Book your appointment with Little Feet Therapy.