Down syndrome is a genetic disorder. It can be identified through tests that are carried out prior to the birth of the child, and it can be noticed in new born children. It affects one in five hundred children and such children exhibit mental retardation. Low muscle tone and heart ailments are evident in children with Down syndrome. In addition, the age of the mother is also a contributing factor for birth with Down syndrome (Melanie, Feb 2001). Autism and Asperger syndrome are developmental disorders. They are associated with other disorders in affected children, such as difficulty in communicating and interacting socially.
Boys are more susceptible to autism than girls; and the risk of autism is four times greater in boys than in girls. A study conducted on children born between 1991 and 1997, revealed that cases of autism had increased by 556%, in the past decade. Scientists are conducting various examinations to find out the reason for this drastic increase in autism cases. Research workers are working on several parameters, such as genetic markers and their contribution to the explosion of autism. This disorder can be recognized through blood tests (Howard, Feb2001, p38).
Down syndrome and autism are closely related. Children with Down syndrome are likely to suffer from autism. Furthermore, tests revealed that more than 10% of those with Down syndrome were also having autism. Precise data in this regard is unavailable, due to the fact that a large number of cases are neither reported nor properly diagnosed. In some cases, the diagnosis occurs at a later age. In many cases, the diagnosing physicians had ignored the possibility of the existence of Down syndrome and autism in their patients. Many diagnosticians are reluctant to recommend a second opinion in such cases.
Furthermore, diagnosing autism is more complicated than diagnosing Down syndrome. This is also a cause for the diagnosticians to exhibit reluctance in testing their patients for autism (Vatter, 1999). The process of diagnosing autism entails a blood test, identification of genetic markers, examination of facial features of the patient and other similar characteristics. All these tests have to be applied to autistic persons. Autism diagnosis is subjective and depends on observing the peculiar behavior of the patient. Persons with autism are more prone to die early than persons with Down syndrome.
The life of autistic persons is considerably limited. Therefore, early detection and treatment is crucial for prolonging their life. Autistic children display eccentric behavior, which makes their parents and the normal schools, unable to cope up with them (Vatter, 1999). In general, children with Down syndrome do not show any complicated behavioral disorders. If any child develops such disorders, it should be tested for autism, particularly in the areas of social and emotional responses. Psychologists contend that delay in cognitive development in a child results in social and emotional disorders.
Moreover, cognitive development in itself is not a disorder. Experts in this area argue that in such situations diagnosis for autism is necessary (Vatter, 1999). Autism in children with Down syndrome affects their psychological emotions in several ways. The important disorders are as follows: 1. Extreme Autistic Aloneness – Under this behavior the affected child would prefer to be left alone, and the child does not mingle with other people. In addition to this, the child sees people as objects instead of humans. The affected child does not play or communicate with other children.
Autistic children do not like changes in their daily activities. They have a compulsory obsessive desire towards sameness Autistic children tend to avoid direct eye contact with other people, and they glance askance, while talking to other people. 2. Children with autism tend to do the same thing repetitively. This is a characteristic trait in autistic persons. If they sit with an object in their hand, they tend to do so for long periods of time (Vatter, 1999). Down syndrome and autism are closely related to each other.
Experts in the field are concerned about the association of these two conditions. Accordingly, a method of dual diagnosis method is essential in those who display deviations in their social and communication responses. Such diagnosis tests their learning abilities, and it has to be conducted as soon as possible, so as to provide future service and appropriate education (Kent, 1998). On occasion persons with Down syndrome are not checked for the presence of autism. The examining physician takes into consideration only the apparent physical characteristics of the referred patient with Down syndrome.
They usually do not go beyond these physical conditions and hence fail to consider the importance of diagnosing the mental characteristics of the patient. It is essential to check if a person with Down syndrome is also suffering from autism. Such screening would reveal the behavioral problems of patients. More importantly, children diagnosed with the Down syndrome and autism should be treated for both these disorders. If they fail to receive timely treatment, they are at the risk of being labeled as behaviorally challenged persons.
At that late stage, their condition would be irreparable (Ghaziuddin, 2005. P 84). A chromosomal abnormality is responsible for the Down syndrome. Chromosomes are genetic markers in the DNA. Every person has two copies of each chromosome. However, persons with Down syndrome have three copies of chromosome 21. This peculiarity is generally referred to as trisomy 21. Translocation is a condition in which the extra copy of the chromosome 21 gets attached to another chromosome. The additional chromosome is responsible for the mental disorders and physical characteristics of the persons with Down syndrome.
In general, persons with Down syndrome have a small head that is flattened at the back. They have slanted eyes, and the corner of their eyes have extra folds of skin, in comparison to normal people. Other features include small sized ears, nose and mouth. Such people have a short physique, small hands and small feet. Moreover, people with Down syndrome suffer from mental disability. Every year in the US, nearly 3,000 to 5,000 children are born with Down syndrome, on an average (Down Syndrome, 2007). Both the parents of children with Down syndrome should shoulder the responsibility or rearing such children.
Such parents should visit the doctor periodically, and attend the assessment sessions conducted by the medical specialists. A similar dedication has to be exhibited, while attending school meetings. Both the parents should actively participate in the decision making process, relating to a child with the Down syndrome, and accord top priority to such activities. They should not consider such activities to be burdensome. In the initial stages, the Down syndrome seems to be quite a vexatious affliction. Therefore, parents should be extremely cautious and active, during this phase of the disease.
Moreover, the partners should continue their relationship till such time as the child grows into an adult. Such a couple should set apart some time to be together, during the early period of the child’s growth. Children demand a great share of their parents’ time; and children with the Down syndrome should always be accompanied by one of the parents. Working parents should resort to childcare services, like babysitting, respite care and other child oriented services, if it is not possible for them to be with the child (Selikowitz, 1997. Pp. 14 – 15).
It is important to note that the development of the child with Down syndrome requires the interaction between the child and others. For this purpose, parents have to undertake intervention programs and schooling for such children. It is important for parents to maintain good interpersonal relations between themselves; because the child will be influenced by their relationship. However, there are a large number of children, who are growing up in single parent families. Such children chiefly interact with just one parent. In order to overcome this problem, friends and relatives should be invited to the home.
This will be of great help to the child and provide it with additional emotional support. Moreover, single parents should consult the concerned professional in their area for advice and appropriate services. There are some preschool centers and respite care facilities available to single parents, and such parents should utilize these facilities for the betterment of their child. A number of governmental agencies are sponsoring and conducting programs to help children with Down syndrome, especially in respect of single parent families.
Thus, single parents should search for programs that benefit their children (Selikowitz, 1997. Pp. 14 – 15). In many children with Down syndrome, physical therapy and specialized education proved to be effective in improving their abilities. Physical therapy includes sensory stimulation, muscle controlling exercises and mental development activities. Usually, children with Down syndrome respond quite well to these physical therapy methods. In addition to these treatments, schools are required to improve the learning skills of children with Down syndrome.
As such, schools play a major role in enhancing the social, academic and physical skills of such children; and children who underwent these interventions would definitely excel in their life (Down Syndrome, 2007). At present, there is no medical intervention to reverse the genetic abnormality that causes the Down syndrome. Medical treatments are limited to reducing the mental and physical disorders associated with Down syndrome. The objective of the extant treatment is to promote the quality of life of the person with Down syndrome and to prolong it.
This entails early treatment of the malaise. At present, several research scholars and professionals are working hard to develop more effective treatment for the Down syndrome. List of References Down Syndrome. (2007, December 5). Retrieved October 25, 2008, from everyday HEALTH: http://www. everydayhealth. com/publicsite/index. aspx? puid=855F5078-E74F-489C-A1BC-F04933DA6B77&ContentID=AZ_d0147&contentPage=6 Ghaziuddin, M. (2005. P 84). Mental Health Aspects of Autism and Asperger Syndrome. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. ISBN 1843107279, 9781843107279. Howard, M. (Feb2001, p38).
Special Babies. Baby Talk , Vol. 66 Issue 1, 7p, 6 color; (AN 5002873). Kent, L. (1998). Autism in Down’s Syndrome: Three Case Reports . Retrieved October 25, 2008, from SAGE JOURNALS Online: http://aut. sagepub. com/cgi/content/abstract/2/3/259 Melanie, H. (Feb 2001). special babies . Baby Talk , Vol. 66, Iss. 1, P. 38. Selikowitz, M. (1997. Pp. 14 – 15). Down Syndrome. Oxford University Press. Vatter, G. (1999, April 26). Diagnosis of Autism in Children With Down Syndrome. Retrieved October 25, 2008, from altonweb: http://www. altonweb. com/cs/downsyndrome/index. htm? page=autism. html