According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, there are about 6,000 babies born with chromosomal disorder, Down syndrome. This means approximately 16 babies are born with Down syndrome every day.
With the advancements and innovations in cognitive and behavioral therapies, several practices are now available to facilitate the development of children with Down syndrome around the globe. Parallel to this is the raised awareness, advocacy and the accessibility of therapy and learning centers, to accommodate these children’s needs.
Occupational therapy or OT is one practice that could be attributed to the facilitation and support for children with Down syndrome.
In this blog, we will be discussing the role of Occupational therapy for the furtherance of Down Syndrome and its implications to the well-being and adult-life.
Occupational Therapy in Children
In essence, Occupational therapy aims to develop and foster independence in children with the use of meaningful activities such as self-care, school activities, and play among others. Every child is unique, and they respond to different therapy methods as well. This explains why initial assessment is essential for occupational therapists to create a child-centered or client-specific therapy framework.
Occupational therapists are allied health professionals- meaning they work with different health professionals within the healthcare system. In short, occupational therapists work side by side with different health practitioners to provide the needed support for children with special needs such as Down syndrome.
Occupational Therapy and Children with Down Syndrome
Unlike other children, a child with Down syndrome require more support and encouragement to grow as functioning adults that contribute to society. The goal for OT in children with Down Syndrome is simple- ensure maximum independence and secure the highest quality of life as possible.
Today, with early intervention and practices that include Occupational therapy, children with Down syndrome are able to participate in inclusive education to learn alongside their normal peers. Apart from this, with advancements in healthcare, life expectancy of Down syndrome has increased from 25 years old to 60. This implies that there are plenty of opportunities for children with Down syndrome to have a significant contribution to society.
In fact, plenty of individuals who have Down syndrome are celebrities, models, world-renowned artists and some have even ventured into politics.
Occupational therapists work with other allied health professionals to maximize the support and development of children with Down syndrome. After the child is assessed, the occupational therapist then works out a framework that utilizes exercises and play activities.
Here are the areas of development that can be improved by OT
- Attention and Concentration and Maintaining Focus
- Sensory integration activities
- Gross and Fine motor skills
- Self Care skills
OT addresses the issues concerning the areas of development of a child. As skilled professionals, they can help parents to work with their children and support them in obtaining a high quality of life whilst achieving their full potential.
Intervention by Occupational therapy is best conducted as soon as Down Syndrome is diagnosed. It should be noted that OT is a constant process that continues from diagnosis to an individual’s adulthood.
Being a parent is a challenge. We concern ourselves with aspects that influence our child’s wellbeing and quality of life; after all, who wouldn’t want what is best for their child? Some parents have it different from others though.
This is especially true for those who are taking care of a child with Down syndrome. And there’s only so much parents can do to help their child with Down syndrome. Occupational therapists come in as partners to address your child’s communication, education, behavioral, and social needs.
In the UAE, Dubai in particular, OT services can be accessed through early childhood education programs by therapy and learning centers like Pulse Therapy and Learning Center. To learn more about Occupational Therapy, you can talk to our experts today.
Bruni, M. (2001). Occupational therapy and the child with Down syndrome. Retrieved October 3, 2008, from http://www.ds-health.com/occther.html