March 21st is World Down Syndrome Awareness Day!
Down syndrome, also called Trisomy 21, is one of the most common genetic chromosomal disorders. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Down syndrome occurs in about 1 in every 700 babies. Down syndrome does not affect all babies in the same way. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Some common physical traits are almond-shaped eyes that slant up, flattened face, poor muscle tone and loose joints. Additionally, intellectual and language impairments are common on a mild to moderate spectrum.
Occupational therapists (OTs) work with persons diagnosed with Down syndrome in all stages of their life supporting a wide variety of skill development. During infancy, OTs can work with families and babies to develop feeding skills. A common physical trait with persons diagnosed with down syndrome is tongue protrusion, which may impact feeding skills. OTs can work with you and your child to develop the appropriate skills needed to safely chew and swallow food to ensure adequate nutrition intake.
Additionally, in the later stages of life, OTs can work on developing functional and age-appropriate fine motor and gross motor skills needed to participate in play, school, home or community activities by developing strengthening activities and/or fine and gross motor manipulation and coordination activities. Furthermore, as noted above, a common physical trait is almond-shaped eyes that slant up, potentially impacting your child’s visual perceptual skills. If this applies to your child, OTs can work with you and your child to improve visual skills by creating a play-based, individualized treatment plan that addresses their impacted visual skills.