Understanding this genetic, developmental condition

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in every 700 babies in the U.S. is born with Down Syndrome, making it the most common genetic condition in the United States of America.

Down syndrome occurs when a child carries an extra copy of chromosome 21, and just that one chromosome carries enough additional genetic material to alter the course of their development. Fortunately, based on predictable learning patterns, parents, teachers, health practitioners may detect the signs of Down Syndrome and intervene early on.

What is early intervention?

Research shows that children’s early learning experiences greatly influence the degree to which they reach their full potential. Early intervention helps to minimize, if not prevent the impact of learning delays during a child’s early development. So, it’s imperative to intervene during the early years when a child is most responsive to learning experiences.

Early intervention consists of physical therapy, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy with an emphasis on creating environments that provide the best possible opportunities for learning and growth. It’s about teaching developmental skills that can’t be acquired through the normal course of events and helping the child develop adaptive skills that lead to greater independence and competence.

Goals of early intervention

  • Educate families about their child’s learning delay.
  • Improve early development for social and educational gains.
  • Reduce feelings of isolation, stress and frustration that families may
    experience.
  • Help children with disabilities grow up to become productive,
    independent individuals.
  • Reduce future costs of special education, rehabilitation and health care needs.

Available resources

Early intervention isnot only highly recommended, it’s a mandate. The Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires states to provide early intervention services for all children who qualify. Every state has its own early intervention program up until children enter kindergarten. When the child reaches the age of 3, support continues under the education budget. Though it’s never too late to start, the sooner early intervention begins, the better.