As part of our month long celebration for Down Syndrome, bringing awareness to children with special needs and fostering inclusion, I have asked Teacher Danica to put together some pointers for parents of children with Down Syndrome and how they can supplement the physical therapies that therapists like her provide for toddlers and kids with D.S.
I have bullet pointed some of the important suggestions that Teacher Danica put together for our awareness campaign.
- Kids with Down Syndrome often times have weaker muscle strength (also known as hypotonia) and joint laxities. This can inhibit development.
- Early Intervention can help with these challenges and children who are on a regimented schedule of Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy will benefit greatly from the assistance offered by trained therapists.
- Goal setting is extremely important to maximize your child’s potential
- It is important to differentiate between “wanting” your child to walk as soon as possible, and giving your child the proper training and therapies so that your child can walk efficiently.
- All things considered the primary goal of physical therapy is to minimize the development of compensatory problems. This is important because sometimes, children with Down Syndrome can sometimes attain a motor patter that is not safe or can provide problems in the future with developing milestones. Correcting these “bad habits” can sometimes be very difficult.
- Consider your child’s age and attention span. Do not overwhelm your child with too many activities to work on at once. Trained physical therapists can do this by breaking down movement patterns. So, if your goal is for your toddler to begin walking on his own, then you and your child’s physical therapist should map out goals based on broken down movements needed to attain walking skills and work through it.
- Follow your child’s lead. If two or three successful repetitions tuckers your child out, then change the activity and try again later.
- Be creative when giving support. Check your child’s posture. It’s common for younger children to slouch. To correct this slouching, try using a rolled towel as support for the lower back.
- Helpful toys with sensory stimulation such as music, lights, and even vibrating toys can assist with goals and movements like crawling.
- Using gym balls, a trampoline and foam noodles can also prove to be helpful tools when working on posture, balance and jumping.
- Using all of these tools plus your imagination to make each “therapy” session with your child is very important as well. Making it fun but structured, and exciting but steady will help your child develop and master each goal you set as the next milestone to achieve.
- Most of all, BE PATIENT. Each child is unique in how they develop and cope with new challenges in their growth and development.