Down syndrome does not have any standard or peculiar treatment. The treatments are provided depending on each individual's intellectual and physical needs. It also depends on every patient's limitations as well as strengths. People with down syndrome will be able to receive a proper care in a community as well as at home.
Children who are suffering from down syndrome are eligible to receive special care from the health professionals like social workers, occupational therapists, special educators, physical therapists, physicians as well as speech therapists. All these professionals who offer help to the children suffering from down syndrome should render them encouragement and stimulation.
The sufferers of Down syndrome are always at a higher risk to a number of health issues and other conditions than those who are not suffering from the syndrome. Most amongst all these conditions may demand sufficient care soon after the birth or any other treatments that will be continued throughout the adolescence and childhood as well. Some treatments may be available throughout the entire lifetime and it may also require specific surgeries in some cases.
Therapy Treatment for Down Syndrome
For promoting a greater development, productivity and independence, the therapies may be started in the early stages. Some of them are stated below:
Speech Language Therapy for Down Syndrome
Speech language therapy helps the kid to improve their skills in language and communication in an effective manner.
- Children who are suffering from down syndrome may lack the ability to grasp the words that are spoken by their peers. A speech language therapist will help them in improving the communication skills by imitating sounds. They may also encourage breastfeeding as it strengthens the oral muscles.
- There are instances when children suffering from the disorder can understand the language and try to communicate with others even if they cannot speak (toddlers). In such cases, the therapist will teach the kids to adopt alternative methods like a sign language and use pictures for communication.
- Communication is a continuous process and people who are finding ways to cope up with it can get training in school as well as later stages in life. The therapist will help one in learning and memorizing the words along with an improved conversation as well as pronunciation skills.
Physical Therapy (PT) for Down Syndrome
- Physical therapy may involve exercises and activities that help in the development of motor skills, boost the muscle strength and stabilize the posture as well.
- This therapy is important in cases of children as it can help in developing their foundation for the skills as well as other physical abilities. The skills to crawl, turn over and reach can be improved as well as the toddler can learn how to interact well with others.
- The therapist can also offer help the children who are suffering from the syndrome and are struggling with physical disabilities.
Emotional and Behavioral Therapies for Down Syndrome
Emotional and behavioral therapies help in finding practical responses to behaviors that are desirable as well as undesirable. Children may sometimes become irritated due to their inability to speak and may often suffer from mental issues as well as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The therapists will try to understand the actual cause and develop strategies for overcoming the problems.
- A mental health professional, psychologist or counselor can help in dealing or coping with the emotional imbalances and develop the interpersonal skills.
- The hormonal changes that are experienced at the age of puberty can make a child more belligerent. Behavioral therapists will help all such children to find some ways to set back their emotions and adopt ways to be calm.
- Parents may also gain well from such therapies as they will help their child in managing their daily chores.
Occupational Therapy for Down Syndrome
Occupational therapy assists patients in adjusting to the daily chores and works in accordance with the abilities as well as needs.
- Self-care skills like writing, eating, using various devices and dressing up can be improved as well as taught with this therapy.
- The occupational therapist may use a variety of tools for improving the functioning of the everyday tasks.
- Children who are in high school will be assisted in finding a job or matching the skills along with their interests and strengths in various fields.
Assistive Devices for Children with Down Syndrome
Children suffering from down syndrome can be often introduced with assistive devices like various technological tools or any other equipment that makes learning easier. This may involve various hearing aids and amplification devices that will improve hearing. Use of devices like mobiles and computers may also be used for increasing the motor skills.
Nutritional Supplementation for Down Syndrome
- Vitamin Supplements: Children with Down syndrome often have a vitamin deficiency and may need various supplements to fulfill the deficiency. The supplements that are used may have RDA values even though the level of vitamin A might prove to be toxic, but they are still encouraged. Serotonin synthesis also has the presence of Vitamin B6 and individuals who suffer from Down syndrome might show lower levels of serotonin.
- CoQ10: The supplementation of Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinol-10) helps in improving the oxidative imbalance that is found in children suffering from Trisomy 21.
- Zinc Supplement: Supplementation of Zinc sulfate also helps in improving the thyroid functioning that is associated with hypozincemia in down syndrome children.
- Minerals: Studies have evaluated that the children who are suffering from Down syndrome often show decreased levels of selenium and zinc serum levels. Zinc also facilitated the increased growth and improved lymphocyte as well as thyroid functioning in an unusual way. Supplements of selenium may be used for improving the functioning of the immune system. No other minerals have been helpful with Down syndrome so far.
- Amino Acids: Amino acids are included in three formulas known as Haps Caps, MSB Plus and NuTriVene-D. The over expression of genes that are found on the chromosome number 21 can cause serine deficiency and excessive amounts of lysine as well as cysteine. The amino acid supplements helped in balancing the level of blood, making it equivalent to the normal functioning of the body.
- Choline: Children that are suffering from down syndrome often show loss of neurons that are responsible for the production of acetylcholine- a neurotransmitter. Choline supplement can help them. There is, however, no evidence that the supplements which are used orally help in the production of this neurotransmitter.
Homeopathy Treatment for Down Syndrome
Down syndrome cannot be cured as it is a genetic problem. Homeopathic medicines have some set of limitations and they do not have the ability of changing the cell's genetic code. This does not mean that the symptoms cannot be treated. With a proper intake of homeopathic medicines, the natural skills can be improved. The treatment may vary from person to person. The homeopathic medicines can help in physical and mental health development in children who are suffering from down syndrome. It may also alleviate certain symptoms or deficiencies that are associated with the disorder.
Plastic Surgery for Down Syndrome
Multiple surgery procedures are available, including:
- Wedge resection of the tongue
- Removing the eye epicanthal folds and straighten the axis of oblique eyelid
- Lower lip reduction
- Silicone implants or use of cartilage at the cheeks, chin and the nasal bridge.
Persons suffering from down syndrome may be subjected to certain prejudices or social barriers due to their facial appearance that is associated with the disorder. A decreased tongue size may help in improving swallowing, chewing and breathing as well as to render clarity in speech.
Helping Children with Down Syndrome
If your child is suffering from Down syndrome, it is your duty to support your child completely. You will have to face numerous challenges as well as events that are demanding.
Your child may not be able to grasp or understand things easily like all the other kids in the similar age group. Nevertheless, the excitement that his or her achievements will bring along can be boundless. Patiently encourage your child at all such times, so that he or she keeps on learning new things.
- Development of motor skills and other goals. You can stage, directed plays to encourage your child to walk and develop his or her muscles. As your child grows, you can take help from a physical therapist to design a plan or an exercise program that will help in greater improvement and development.
- Practice self-feeding. Let your child have his or her meal independently and use steps that will gradually help your child with eating their meal. Begin with liquid meals or thick drinks that can be easily consumed with hands.
- Teach your child to dress on their own and practice it every day without your assistance.
- Help with communication. You can begin with simple tasks like speaking, naming or showing various objects that will help your kid in learning to speak and understand things.
- Maintaining hygiene and grooming. Teach your kids to maintain hygiene and practice it regularly. Teach him or her some basic things like applying a deodorant. Include all the necessary tasks that will help them in self grooming.
- Make your child confident enough to be physically active and learn as well as socialize. This may include enrolling them in a class of children who belong to the same age group. This will stimulate the thinking skills of your child without any hassles. You must, however, know that your child can be challenging and fail at times.
Enrolling in an early intervention program might be of great help as these programs encourage the development of all the skills in children. Consult a doctor and find all such centers in your area.