World Down Syndrome Day is observed annually on March 21, to raise awareness amongst the global population about Down syndrome. The specific date – March 21 – was chosen to earmark this worldwide health campaign every year, as it signifies the unique trait of trisomy meaning the triplication or 3 copies of the 21st chromosome in patients with this genetic ailment, i.e., 21/3.
Also Read: World Down Syndrome Day: Debunking Popular Myths
World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) was first organized in the year 2006 by the Down Syndrome Association in Singapore, following which the United Nations (UN) declared it a global healthcare event on December 19, 2011, stating that WDSD activities would be held every year on March 21, beginning from 2012. The theme for World Down Syndrome Day 2022 focuses on inclusion of people born with Down Syndrome in society, in countries around the world, with the question being posed as “What Does Inclusion Mean?” and urging the general public from all walks of life to contribute with meaningful responses. Since Down syndrome results in odd physical features and slow mental development in children, it is important to inculcate knowledge about the genetic condition among the general public and ensure that affected patients are not discriminated against or isolated by people, in local societies and communities at large.
Also Read: Down Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder that arises in children right from birth, as a result of being born with an extra 21st chromosome, a phenomenon termed as “trisomy”. A normal healthy child acquires one copy of each of the 23 chromosomes from both parents and hence has a total of 23 pairs i.e. 46 chromosomes in their bodily genetic constitution. However, in Down Syndrome, an extra copy of the 21st chromosome results in a total of 47 chromosomes, leading to a faulty genetic makeup in the child right from birth, hampering their physical appearance, intellectual growth, and brain development. Furthermore, it also gives rise to thyroid illnesses and heart problems like in other genetic birth disorders of Marfan syndrome and Alagille syndrome, and the affected child thereby requires constant supervision from parents and routine medical care from doctors to avert any severe health complications.
Also Read: Alagille Syndrome: How This Genetic Disorder Negatively Influences The Liver And Heart In Children
5 Effective Ways For Parents To Support Children With Down Syndrome:
Keep The Child Busy
Although children with down syndrome might not be able to perform complicated tasks, parents can keep them busy and teach them to do simple chores around the house. These include arranging books on a shelf or cutlery in a rack and parents can break the process into many steps to help their child better understand the nature of the task given to them and finish it with ease.
Help With School Assignments
Down syndrome obstructs the cognitive abilities of the child and hence they may not be able to grasp concepts taught at school as quickly as other kids of the same age. Nevertheless, with some patience and diligence, parents can help their child understand the lessons taught at school better and assist them in completing their homework as well.
Regular Health Check-Ups
Since down syndrome also impedes the optimal functioning and proper development of vital internal organs in the body such as the heart and thyroid gland, parents must take their child for routine health checks. This ensures that their bodily hormonal activities, cardiac wellness and blood circulation are all functioning smoothly and prevents the risk of grave health problems.
Even though the child with down syndrome may require assistance often with various tasks, parents must inculcate a sense of independence in them as well. Parents should take efforts to train the child in doing day-to-day activities like brushing their teeth, wearing their clothes, buttoning their shirts and be patient even if they make mistakes repeatedly, correcting the child until they do it right.
Ensure Optimal Mental Health
A child with down syndrome may often feel dejected at not being able to express their needs clearly or being isolated by other children while playing or at school. Parents must communicate often and with kindness with their child to understand their emotions, identify if their child is displaying any signs of depression, loss of interest or social withdrawal and seek help from a mental health professional for the same. Counselling sessions by medical experts involving the parents as well help in improving the mental health of the child with down syndrome.