Down syndrome kids: Features, Social Inclusion and Teaching Strategies
Who is a Down syndrome kid?
Down syndrome kids are children with birth condition whereby they have 47 chromosomes instead of normal 46. The person is born with extra 21st chromosome, and is said to be cognitively impaired. Chromosomes are naturally-occurring strands of molecules found in the cell nucleus. They are in form of long repeated threads. They determine what gene a person inherits from his parents.
A child inherits the disability if he is born as a Down syndrome baby. A Down syndrome baby grows to become a down syndrome adult.
How to recognise Down syndrome kids
Kids with Down syndrome exhibit several observable features. They can be recognised through their physical and behavioural features.
Physical Features of Down syndrome Kids
1. The skin part of upper eyelid in the corners of eyes appears folded
2. The tone of their muscle is low
3. They have protruding tongues and smaller mouth opening
4. They face is usually flat
5. Their stature is in general smaller
6. They have moderate-to-mild intellectual disabilities.
Behavioural Features of Down syndrome kids
1. They show anxiety due to unfamiliar situations with uncertain expectations in the environment.
2. They exhibit obsessive/compulsive behaviours. These include repetitive, disruptive, oppositional and inattentive as well as ritualistic behaviours increased level of restlessness and chronic sleeplessness, fatigue and worry. They tend not to be unhappy, but rather quite silly, happy, and excited.
3. They suffer from depression out of environment changes in previously recognised events which can result in extreme social withdrawal, sadness and disrupted. Those events were perceived extraordinary to them.
4. They show decline in social-relatedness, self-imposed, repetitive conventional behaviours.
Key Role of Parents and Schools
Adults and kids with Down syndrome respond negatively to unfavourable environmental changes from which they suffer dissatisfaction. Such psychosocial stressors mainly associated with absence, illness or death of a key attachment figure can trigger environmental injuries like depression.
It is highly recommended that parents and guardians provide or arrange for supportive services to cushion the effect of depression, anxiety or any other undesired impact that might result from any anticipated changes. This is because administering any medical treatment to psychosocial stress suffered by the child without proper personal support will most unlikely be fruitful.
Schools have a big role to play. They need teachers who have knowledge of dealing with behavioural problems associated with developmental disorders and who also have experiences in working with children.
A school who doesn’t have such teachers may train two or three of their teacher to provide for such children’s need.
Teachers who are experienced in training kids with Down syndrome are the school’s first point of call in the absence of a mental health provider skilled in developmental disorders in crisis situation.
Sudden replacement of a teacher whom kids with Down syndrome are familiar with has a damaging effect. It is advisable to introduce another teacher, allow the kids to familiar with her before the former leaves for good.
Social inclusion of Down syndrome kids
Societies must create integrative models facilitating engagement and full participation of Down syndrome kids in school environment and in other social institutions without any atom of stigmatization. This will help them build confidence in themselves and develop strong interpersonal relationship.
Teaching Strategies of Down syndrome kids
Firstly, the teacher needs to understand if the Down syndrome student has any medical condition and also how he learns best to help tailor it into his instructional goals.
It is also important to link the lesson contents to the child’s prior knowledge and area of interest expecting positive performance from his work.
Simplicity of instruction shouldn’t be waived. Instructing without imparting knowledge is meaningless. The teacher is expected to use suitable language that is brief and step-wise which matches the level of understanding of such children, delivered in repetitive method in instruction.
Indisputably, any concrete materials applicable in real world authentic situations can make a visual reinforcement and improves the student’s cognitive consciousness.