Down Syndrome (also known as Down’s Syndrome) is a genetic disorder that occurs in about one per 1000 babies born each year. Children living with Down Syndrome will experience some developmental delay and learning difficulties. Often, they can have delayed development in language and speech.
Down Syndrome is caused by the presence of a third copy of the 21st Chromosome. Chromosomes are composed of DNA and other proteins and are present throughout every cell of the body. They carry the genetic information needed for cells to develop. People usually have 46 chromosomes divided into 23 pairs of chromosomes.
Down syndrome occurs when there is a problem during cell division which results in a third 21st chromosome which is why Down Syndrome is also referred to as Trisomy 21.
When a baby is born with Down Syndrome, there is no way to tell the extent of their intellectual disability or the way it may affect their lives. Environmental, cultural and social support can help to shape their lives. Most children born with Down syndrome will lead a happy, healthy and fulfilling life. Some children will only require minimal support while others may need more extensive help.
Down Syndrome can be identified during pregnancy by prenatal screening followed by diagnostic testing. Diagnostic tests are more invasive and include amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS). Amniocentesis is when a small amount of amniotic fluid, is taken from the amniotic sac surrounding the foetus, with the foetal DNA being examined for genetic abnormalities. CVS is when a small sample of placental tissue is used to test for chromosomal abnormalities.
Young adults living with Down syndrome have an intellectual disability ranging from mild (IQ: 50-69), moderate (IQ: 35-50) or severe (IQ: 20-35).
Intellectual disabilities in children that have Down Syndrome can cause some delayed development. They may experience delayed language and speech development and be slower to learn skills such as crawling, walking, sitting and standing. Most will develop the necessary communication skills to live a fulfilling life although it may take longer than other children. They can have cognitive and behavioural problems that may include short attention span, poor judgement, and impulsive behaviour. People with Down syndrome often need more support as they grow up including in the school and home environment.
Support for Parents
Having a child with a disability can be demanding on the family, but most manage to make the adjustment with little disruption to family life. There are many supports available to assist with the additional needs of a child with Down Syndrome.
There is a national network of peer support groups for parents who care for a child or adult with Down Syndrome. Peer support groups provide an excellent opportunity to get together with other families that have been through similar experiences. They often have regular meetings where people can share ideas, experiences and meet new friends.
Local State and Territory Down Syndrome associations provide support and information. They may visit the family home or some hospitals. They can be contacted on 1300 881 935.
Early Childhood Intervention Services provide specialised support for infants and young children with developmental delay or disability and their families. These services help the family to achieve goals for their child and to develop skills and abilities.
Early childhood intervention is a critical time for brain development where learning is most rapid. Future development is based on learning during this early period, which can potentially reduce the amount of support needed in later life. It is also important for the family, as they learn to adapt and meet the needs of having a child with Down Syndrome.
Early childhood support can be provided by educators/teachers, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, family support workers, psychologists and other professionals.
The development of a child with Down Syndrome is influenced by their family’s love and stimulation. Spending time through everyday play and communication is a key to their development.
The National Disability Support Scheme (NDIS) is a government funded program to provide financial assistance to families living with disabilities throughout Australia. To be eligible to become a participant, a person must meet the age, residency and disability requirements of the NDIS.
Better Start is another government funded program that assists in the development of children with Down Syndrome but is slowly being phased out and replaced by NDIS.
The Australian Government also provides financial support for people living with Down Syndrome. The Disability Support Pension is an income replacement, that is separate to NDIS funding.
For more information read our blog on Funding Options.
Young Adults with Down Syndrome
Young adults who have grown up with Down Syndrome are sometimes not treated as an individual but defined by their disability. These young adults are unique with their own strengths and weaknesses and can possess amazing talents, abilities, thoughts and interests. They experience usual emotions such as frustration, happiness, embarrassment, and sadness.
As adults, people with Down Syndrome have the same aspirations in life that may include intimacy, close friends and family, and a good place to live. They may learn to live on their own, but will likely need help with more complex issues such as birth control or managing money. Some go to college, while others manage to gain meaningful employment. Many young adults with Down Syndrome can live productive lives in their own home with minimal support while working and earning their own income, whereas others may need added support. They can often develop relationships and build a happy family and future for themselves.
JettProof for Down Syndrome
JettProof Calming Sensory Clothing is used by children and adults living with Down Syndrome throughout Australia and the world. JettProof undergarments can help them to regulate their body, stay calm and focused. JettProof helps to minimise meltdowns and can aid in social situations.
JettProof is professionally designed to be comfortable to wear in all conditions, all day, every day. It has no internal tags or seams for those with tactile sensitivities. JettProof continues to help families living with disabilities, and receives regular positive feedback and testimonials.
“I can’t rate your JettProof vests highly enough. The difference that they have made to my son (nearly 5) has been unbelievable. They’ve minimised meltdowns and calmed and centred him in a way that I wouldn’t have believed before trying them. Kate C
We started using them about six months ago after his Occupational Therapist recommended them, and everyone in close contact with him has commented on the positive difference they’ve made to his mood and behaviour and self-control. Dave M
They’ve gone a long way to making a hard situation better. And for that, I can’t thank you enough.” Jane P
“Big thank you to JettProof. This compression suit has put a huge smile on my son’s face. He just loves it! He spent the whole morning giggling with happiness. So good to see him smiling!” Michelle B
“My son has ASD and I have noticed the difference when he has his JettProof shirt on. He is more emotional and anxious when he hasn’t got his shirt on. When he has the JettProof shirt on he is happier and calmer. So glad I came upon your site. Your clothing does make a difference. Thank you.” Maria S