On the 21st of March not so long ago, we have just celebrated a world awareness day which is the World Down Syndrome day, so let’s talk about Down Syndrome for a bit in this article. What comes into mind when you hear Down Syndrome? Could it be the face of someone you know who have Down Syndrome? Or does your mind speak of the extra copy of their 21st chromosome?
Well, Down Syndrome is a condition in which a child is born with an extra copy of their 21st chromosome, also known as trisomy 21. But how much do you know about people or children with Down Syndrome? Children with Down Syndrome likes to socialize, they love spending time with others, but some may prefer solitary time as well. Children with Down Syndrome may also throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want, but they could love sharing and be forgiving as well. Children with Down Syndrome loves exploring the world around them, but some do prefer familiar places. Does this sound confusing? Because they sound just like any other children you know? That’s just about right!
Due to the lack of research, technologies, manpower and many other factors, the world of children and people with special needs are often given labels or stereotyped in many ways. We often hear about their diagnosis before knowing their face, hearing about their behaviour before knowing their personalities. The truth is, children with Down Syndrome can do anything any other kid can, they just need a little more time, patience, support and compassion.
So how do we support them in the community? Children with Down Syndrome may struggle with motor skills as well as their speech and language. Because of the low muscle tone, speech clarity may be a challenge. But don’t let that stop you from getting to know them, they may just surprise you with how much they know, feel and is capable of doing. Some things that can support children with Down Syndrome in communicating are:
1. Communication device
They may use a high technology device like an Ipad, where they can type, search icons or use communication applications to convey their message when others cannot understand their speech.
Gestures, actions or body language are non-verbal communication ways that could support their communication. We use many forms of non- verbal gestures or actions in our daily life when we are communicating. We know that someone could be angry by looking at their facial expression. The waiter in that Indian Mamak stall standing across the shop could understand that I would like pay or order when I show him the gesture of writing. These are all forms of communication.
Pictures are powerful tools in communication as well, they could use laminated pictures to tell you that they are happy that you are here. We can even draw to communicate better.
At the end of the day, know that every individual is special, their personalities are worth getting to know more about, so let’s strive to be more inclusive in the world that we live in. Children and people with Down Syndrome are awesome! Just like you!