Down syndrome is one of the most common among the genetic disorders, affecting approximately 1 in 700-900 babies born per year worldwide (varying by countries). It even has another name indicating the most common cause, trisomy 21, which just says there are three copies of the 21st chromosome. That matters to parents anxious for an accurate diagnosis, but it has no impact on what a client of any age with that diagnosis, and his or her family, experiences at CTTC.
As with all of our clients, we see every person with Down syndrome as a unique individual, with his or her own strengths and challenges, dreams and goals, which we are here to support.
Some of the more common characteristics, present in widely varying degrees (and sometimes not present at all) in individuals with Down syndrome include:
- Low muscle tone and related hyper-flexibility
- Flat facial features, a small nose, unique shape to eyes
- Visual problems
- Gastro-intestinal tract irregularities
- An enlarged tongue that tends to protrude
- Decreased hearing functions
- Mild to moderate cognitive delays
Some of those can affect, and be affected by, the interdependence among sensory, motor and processing systems, as well as affect, and be affected by, environmental factors influencing that interdependence. That’s the domain of all CTTC programs: supporting child and family for most efficient communication and use of all those systems, toward your goals. Also worth mentioning is that cognitive processes depend on accurate bodily input, starting with physiologic stability.
Through careful observation and analysis we can discern systems of the body and brain that need strengthening or organising or protection. We then design an individualized program of gentle movement-based activities, along with other indicated recommendations and support, to enhance weak systems, reduce symptomatic behaviours, and create function from dysfunction.
These are just some examples from the list above that can be addressed with a HANDLE program: low muscle tone that affects gait and posture plus things such as the tongue-thrust tendency; visual functions like focus; even hearing acuity in that our ears follow the lead of our eyes, to know where to focus. The client (whether adult or child), along with parents or caregivers, and the CTTC practitioner, will identify what to address specific to the client’s goals, and determine how best to reach them.