Some of the needs children with Down syndrome have are exactly the same as other children, but there are other things that are different.
A child with Down syndrome has the same need for love, security and stimulation as any other child. It helps if they are included in as many everyday family, learning and social experiences as possible. It is important to understand that you can positively influence a child’s development simply by providing loving care and fun.
Children with Down syndrome are all individuals. The only thing they all have in common is that they have extra chromosome 21 genes. The effect that this extra genetic material has on each child’s health and development varies a lot. Everyone will have additional needs, but each person with Down syndrome is unique and will be affected in different ways.
Children with Down syndrome share some common physical characteristics but they do not all look the same. Children will look more like their parents and siblings than other children with the syndrome. Each child’s personality is also unique. They may be sociable or shy, calm, anxious, easy to manage or stubborn – just like other children!
Children with Down syndrome also vary significantly in the progress they make with reaching, sitting, standing, walking, communicating, talking and learning to read. Some children have a greater degree of disability, complex health issues and more needs than others.
The following all help children achieve as much as possible:
▪ Effective healthcare
▪ Good parenting skills
▪ An ordinary family life
▪ Early intervention to support development
▪ Good education
Early intervention in this context usually means taking positive action in the first years of life. It’s impossible to predict outcomes for any individual child when they are very young but it’s important to understand that, in general, children and young people with Down syndrome are achieving much more than they did 25 years ago.
Some of the reasons for this are:
▪ Increased acceptance and inclusion by society
▪ Advances in medical care
▪ Better understanding of the developmental and educational needs of individuals with Down syndrome
▪ Better quality education.