Down Syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. It is typically associated with physical growth delays, intellectual impairment, and communication delays. Children with Down Syndrome (DS) are usually good communicators. However, clear speech is more difficult and therefore, speech can be a challenge. Children with Down Syndrome also typically also present with motor and muscle tone issues impacting their development.
Treatment Therapies at Kara Dodds and Associates
A variety of therapies can be used in early intervention programs and throughout a child’s life with Down syndrome to promote the greatest possible development, independence, and productivity. Some of these therapies we offer at Kara Dodds and Associates are listed below:
Speech-language therapy can help children with Down Syndrome improve their communication skills, oral motor, and feeding skills and teach children to use their language more effectively. Typically, children with Down Syndrome often learn to speak later than their peers. In many cases, children with Down Syndrome understand language and want to communicate before they can expressively speak. To improve communication, our Speech therapists create goals targeting:
- Imitation of sounds and words
- Improved receptive language (e.g. understanding of vocabulary)
- Teaching alternative means of communication (e.g. pictures or sign language) until child learns to speak
- Improve oral motor movement and function in order to improve movement of lips, jaw, tongue (e.g. range of motion, reduce drooling)
- Improve oral motor needed for improved feeding
- Improve speech intelligibility skills and social language skills (e.g. social skills)
Physical therapy is important, especially early in a child’s life, because physical abilities lay the foundation for others. Our physical therapy can help improve and build motor skills, increase muscle strength, and improve posture and balance in order to improve:
- Ability to turn over, crawl, and reach for objects, helping children learn about the world around them and how to interact with it through their environment
- Help to build strategies to compensate for physical challenges, such as low muscle tone, in ways that avoid long-term problems (e.g. proper walking or sitting patterns to avoid pain later).
Occupational therapy is necessary also because of physical limitations can affect feeding, fine, gross motor and sensory regulation. Our occupational therapists are working with children as they are learning to move, and teach them to be more independent by adjusting everyday tasks in order to improve:
- Self-care skills (e.g. independent feeding, dressing, utensil use)
- Improve fine motor skills and improve educational access by improving use of writing (e.g. implementing pencil grasps) or modified scissors in order for child to complete art activities.
- Improve gross motor skills by addressing sensory integration issues so that a child can improve attention to tasks and self-regulate sensory needs better.