Down syndrome is a congenital condition that doesn’t discriminate from race, economic status or culture as it is chromosomal. This paper I will to explain the causes, signs and other different treatments you can do to help and teach a person with Down Syndrome and their families .
The history of Down Syndrome started in 1862 which “was first described by an English physician John Langdon Down who helped to differentiate the condition from mental disability.” Many people during that time were killed, abandoned or ostracized from society. “In the 20th century, it was common for these individuals to be institutionalized and they did not receive appropriate treatment for the associated medical complications.” (Mandal, 2018) For this reason, many children who presented with Down Syndrome would die during infancy or early adulthood. It wasn’t until the 1850’s techniques were discovered which could help identify there was an extra chromosome and its shape . “This led to the understanding that trisomy 21 was the cause of Down’s syndrome.” (Mandal, 2018) There are three different types of Down Syndrome they are all caused by different faults with the 21-chromosome material; Regular trisomy 21 it occurs when all the cells in the body have an extra chromosome 21; Translocation occurs when extra the chromosome 21 material attaches itself to another chromosome; Mosaic occurs when only some of the cells has an extra, third, chromosome 21. (NHS, 2017)
There are many presenting signs and symptoms of Down Syndrome, this would also include objective and subjective data medical professionals may see or the individual may express. Physical symptoms include eyes which slant upwards, small ears, flat back of the head, protruding tongue, small mouth, flattened nose bridge, white spots on the iris, short fingers, loose skin on the back of the neck, loose joints, poor muscle tone and low birth weight. (NHS, 2017). Individuals with Down Syndrome also can be slower in development than children of similar age which may include that it takes them longer to learn to speak or to read. All individuals with Down Syndrome have a different degree of learning disability. it can affect some more severely than others. The individual with Down Syndrome will also need to be monitored for conditions that can affect them at a higher rate because they are more likely to develop health conditions. (NHS, 2017)
These conditions include a congenital heart defect which means they will have it since birth. There are different types that can affect individuals with Down Syndrome. One of the most common is an atrioventricular canal defect which causes a hole to form within the heart and can result in problems with the heart valve. Other heart problems include ventricular septal defect and this is when a hold occurs in the septum in the lower part of the heart, which causes the heart to have to work harder to pump more blood around the body and can cause the heart to become enlarged. (NHS, 2017) Also, patients with Down Syndrome can have problems with their ears as well as sometimes hearing, a common condition is called Glue ear which is caused by a buildup of fluid in the middle ear. In addition, they may have sight problems, squinting is one of the most common but often can be treated with glasses, other problems include lazy eye, short sightedness, long sightedness, eye infections, nystagmus and keratoconus. They are at an increased susceptibility to infection it is thought that this may be a result of an abnormality to the immune system. Lastly individuals with Down Syndrome as they age are more likely to develop dementia. Compared to others they tend to develop the disease at an earlier age. (NHS, 2017)
In individuals with Down Syndrome nursing interventions should include providing stimulation in a supervised setting which should also include for their risk of delayed disability. Nurse will enlist the help of Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy and Special Education professional; nurses should talk slowly and use pictures when communicating with a child. (Sylvester, 2016) To address their risk for infection, teach the family good handwashing skills. When it comes to the parents ; provide them with resources of programs and activities to address developmental delays in the early years and involve the parents in the care of the child. Explain procedures and treatments all involved go along caring for their child to help them understand more and be able to help enable them to do more for their child. (Sylvester, 2016)
There is no standard treatment for Down Syndrome, they are based on the individual’s needs and limitations. They will be receiving care from a variety of health professionals which can include physicians, special educators , speech therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist and social workers; this usually begins with early intervention from all these different types of health professionals. “Most children with Down Syndrome are eligible for free, appropriate public education under federal law. Public Law 105-17 (2004): The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act makes it possible for children with disabilities to get free educational services to help them learn as much as they can. Each child is entitled to these services from birth through the end of high school, or until the age 21, whichever comes first. Most early intervention programs fall under the legislation.” (What are common treatments for Down Syndrome, 2017) Physical therapy started at an early age will help to increase muscle strength and to help improve posture and balance. They also help the child and parents learn to do things a certain way to possibly help avoid any future complications. Speech therapy can help the child to use communication and language skills more effectively because in children with Down Syndrome they often learn to speak later and a Speech Therapist can help the child learn different means of communication which can include helping the child learn to use pictures to communicate or even sign language until they are able to learn to speak. Occupational therapy is available to help the child with self-care with things such as eating, getting dressed and writing. They also offer special tools to help with everyday functioning. Emotional and behavioral therapies help with behaviors and helping the child with Down Syndromes because they may be come frustrated when they can’t communicate properly or effectively. These therapists also help to understand the child when they are acting out to help with ways to prevent these situations in order to help teach positive ways to respond to such situations. Also, helping parents with ways to help their child manage challenges and help the child to reach goals as well as meeting their full potential in life and/or when they have goals they would like to accomplish. There are no specific medications to treat Down Syndrome, unless they have an underlying condition which their doctor would treat them for accordingly. There are now many assistive devices to help an individual with Down Syndrome to help with learning or to make things easier for them; some of these devices include amplification devices for hearing problems, bands that help with movement, special pencil to help with writing, touchscreen computers, and computers with large-letter keyboards. (What are common treatments for Down Syndrome, 2017)
Family teaching for an individual with Down Syndrome should include teaching the family that their child will have a low muscle tone; they may learn slower than other children so always teach the family that they can and will learn, it just may take them more time or practice. Remember to not limit the child. Let them show you who they are as an individual, as they will grow at their own rate and raise and care for them as you would any other child. Teach them about early interventions. The resources that are available to them and their child to help with developmental challenges; help them to find the resources and give them all the information or refer them to a Social Worker who can help them fully. As far as teaching parents about their baby’s health it is important for them to know that they will need the same wellness check ups and immunizations. It may also mean that that their baby does have extra health issues or may need more check ups to help them stay healthy; if they baby does have extra health issues help the parents any special appointments they may need. Let the parents know that babies with Down Syndrome will need to have their hearts and hearing checked. Individual help for the parent should include other parents of children who have Down Syndrome can help them as a source of information and support, help them to also find support groups for parents with children who have Down Syndrome . These groups may have helpful materials for new parents. (Family teaching toolbox: Down syndrome , n.d.)
In conclusion, children with Down Syndrome can live fully fulfilling lives with the proper treatment and care. Popular culture has such television programs as Born This Way display fully functional young adults on all spectrums of this disorder. On a personal note, my Aunt Kim who recently passed away at age 40, was a living example of someone who loved and lived with this condition. Growing up with her and the light she brought into every room when she entered it or all the countless hours we sat listening to music and dancing she was a true inspiration to me. She is the reason this topic hit so close to my heart and I dedicate this paper and any future treatment I give Down Syndrome patients to her and her memory .