The Notion of Down Syndrome
Doctor Langdon Down was the first who described the Down syndrome as a mental disorder in 1866. As we see, this disease is named after him. Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder that is characterized by the intellectual disability, mental retardation, the unusual changes of facial features, developmental delays, low muscle tone, etc. It is caused by the trisomy of the twenty-first chromosome.
Down syndrome is a genetic syndrome that can cause heart defects, Alzheimer's disease, leukemia and other health problems. Life expectancy of people with Down syndrome has increased to age 55, because of the improvement of medicine. Down syndrome is the state of mental and physical retardation. It occurs in 1 of every 800 babies in the United States (KidsHealth, 2012).
Each human cell has 23 pairs of different chromosomes. Each chromosome consists of genes that are necessary for the development of the body. An individual has 23 chromosomes from the mother and 23 chromosomes from the father. Down syndrome is the inheritance of the 3 chromosomes 21; this is why Down syndrome is also called trisomy 21. This illness cannot be prevented, but is possible to be detected before child's birth. Nowadays there are many of recourses aimed at helping the families, which have such children.
The most characteristic feature of children with Down syndrome is mental retardation; in every person the degree of mental retardation is different. Some children learn very slowly, others have difficulties with reasoning and judgment. However, it does not mean that because of mental retardation these children have no capacity to learn and get something new (KidsHealth, 2012).
On the contrary, they can be very talented and gifted. Such children can also have problems with talking and walking, as they begin to walk and talk not the same way, as other children do. It is necessary to mention that at birth it is difficult to detect the rate of mental retardation in an infant.
Without any doubt an ability to learn in children with Down syndrome is not the same, as in their healthy friends. Their abilities and learning skills are mild and moderate. They can develop their skills further during their lives, but the pace of this development is slow. It is known that children with Down syndrome are curious and have a great desire to know something new; this is why early intervention in their life, good education for stimulation, and encouragement and support will help them to be practically on the same level with the healthy children.
It is necessary to say that Down syndrome is incurable at any age, as it is a genetic disease. However, one should remember that children with Down syndrome need a special care in order to live a rewarding life. The early intervention in their life, good education for stimulation, and encouragement and support will help them to be practically on the same level with the healthy children.
Medical Problems in Children with Down Syndrome
Children with Down syndrome differ from others, as they have some physical features such as: upward slant to the eyes, flat facial profile, a protruding tongue and small ears. They are also characterized by the low muscle tone, and hypotonia that retards sitting, walking and crawling. Children with Down syndrome are of average size, they are smaller than their peers, as they grow slowly. This special state causes digestive problems, delays in speech and disability in feeding, toilet teaching and dressing.
There are children with Down syndrome that have some medical problems; however, there are such children that have the serious problems with their health. For example, 40% of children with Down syndrome have a congenital heart defect and 60% of children do not have heart defects. These heart problems can be quite serious, which require surgery and treatment, and not serious. Moreover, the children with Down syndrome can suffer from thyroid problems, seizure disorders, intestinal abnormalities, weight issues, respiratory problems and leukemia.
Many children with Down syndrome have problems with hearing and vision. The cause of bad hearing is the different structure of the inner bones in ear or ear infections that influence badly the state of hearing. Vision problems put those children into an increased risk of cataracts, lazy eye, crossed-eyes, near- and far-sightedness (Schoenstadt, 2008).
It is also difficult to predict the behavior of children with Down syndrome. They are very unpredictable but very happy, sociable and outgoing. As a rule, the children possessing this illness are underestimated. Indeed, they differ from healthy kids, but they are particular, as they experience the different emotions and have their own features and characteristics, the strong and weak points. It was proven, that children with Down syndrome are not identical; they are unique in their own ways.
Children with Down syndrome are not formed personalities that have their attitude to something, that develop their own behavior. As a rule, they copy the behavior of other people. Children with this syndrome are reserved; they prefer everyday routine, sameness and order, which is their way of facing the difficulties of everyday life. They are very stubborn and it is difficult for parents to look after them (Stray-Gunderson, 1995)
Detection of Down Syndrome
Without any doubt it is possible to reveal Down syndrome with the help of diagnostic and screening tests. Screening tests estimate a fetus on risk of Down syndrome; diagnostic tests can detect whether there Down syndrome in the baby or there is not. Screening tests are easy; however, they are not effective, as they cannot say exactly whether a child has Down syndrome or not. These tests can only help to decide to do diagnostic tests or not.
The accurateness of diagnostic tests in detecting Down syndrome is 99%. Diagnostic tests are recommended for women of the age 35 and older. Screening tests consist of nuchal translucency testing, the triple screen or quadruple screen, integrated screen and a genetic ultrasound. Diagnostic tests consist of chorionic villus sampling, amniocentesis, and percutaneous umbilical blood sampling (Stray-Gunderson, 1995).
In conclusion, it is necessary to say that Down syndrome is incurable at any age, as it is a genetic disease. However, one should remember that children with Down syndrome need a special care in order to live a rewarding life. The early intervention in their life, good education for stimulation and encouragement and support will help them to be practically on the same level with the healthy children.
Children with Down syndrome suffer from other medical problems; this is why they do not live long lives. The most frequent health problems are heart defects, vision and hearing problems, hypotonia, etc.
To my mind, our society should support children with Down syndrome and ruin stereotype that they are different and strange. It is necessary to enroll such children in different services that develop and open them as the personalities that are knowledgeable and gifted. Children with Down syndrome should be provided with speech, physical and art therapists for encouraging and accelerating their development.
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