There is no cure for Down's syndrome. But the available treatment options can help a person with Down’s syndrome lead a healthy, active and more independent life.
Children with Down’s syndrome are prone to have learning difficulties, which can vary in severity from mild to moderate. Early intervention programmes have been observed to be helpful for children with disabilities and learning difficulties. They aim to support children with Down’s syndrome, from birth until the age of about five years.
These programmes are important, as intervention at an early age can help to make the child more independent and healthy later in life. Early intervention programmes include healthcare, education and treatments, speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. The programme also involves providing advice and support to the family to look after the child.
Care of a child with Down’s syndrome involves a number of different healthcare professionals. They work to help the child attain maximum possible independence, good health and quality of life.
Team caring for the child with Down’s syndrome may include the following:
- Physiotherapist: Children with Down’s syndrome often have poor muscle tone and delayed development. A physiotherapist (a trained healthcare professional who uses physical methods, such as massage and manipulation, to improve overall health and physical condition) can help them to learn to roll over, crawl, sit up or walk. Physiotherapy should be preferably started from a young age, as it can help to improve delayed motor development and their range of movement.
- Speech therapist: Most children with Down’s syndrome have problems with speech and language. A speech therapist can help the child learn to speak and communicate more effectively.
- Occupational therapist: Occupational therapists teaches a child/person with Down’s syndrome to do tasks difficult for him or her by breaking down the tasks into smaller steps, and then helping them to learn how to complete the task, step-by-step. This can help them learn daily activities such as feeding and dressing which are difficult for the child/person, so that they can live more independently.
- Dietician: People with Down’s syndrome are often obese. A dietician is a health care professional who is an expert in food and nutrition. They can make an individualised plan to help someone with Down’s syndrome. Dietary plan that is tailored to their needs is more effective and ensures that they are on a healthy, nutritious and well-balanced diet.
- Audiologist: Many people with Down’s syndrome have hearing problems. An audiologist (an expert in diagnosing and treating hearing conditions) can help to diagnose hearing disorder as soon as possible.
- Ophthalmologist and orthoptists: Down’s syndrome increases the risk of developing eye problems, such as squints (strabismus) or ‘lazy eye’ (amblyopia), eye infections and cataracts. An ophthalmologist (an expert in diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions) can help to diagnose and treat them.
- Paediatrician: A paediatrician (a doctor who specialises in diagnosis and treatment of disease in children) can help to co-ordinate the diagnosis and treatment of all the problems that your child has.
- Cardiologist: People with Down’s syndrome are at higher risk of having cardiac problems. A cardiologist (an expert in diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions) can help to diagnose and treat them.
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