My son’s blood group is A positive (A+) and it’s compatible with both parents’ blood group which is A+ too. Isaac shares some features with us, such as his upper gapped- tooth and his eye balls which are take after me; and he has a bald head traits which is identical with his father’s head. He is a part of us but with a condition; this is a food for thought for all of us.
Is it a disease? From our definition of Down syndrome, we have been able to establish that it is not a disease but an extra genetic formation causing the challenge of mental and physical development. Though, the consequence causes children with this condition to be prone to some health problems, many of them have been seen to live considerably healthy lives.
The question on the issue of testing for Down syndrome in a pregnant woman is: what will the expectant mother do if the test proves positive? Will she go for abortion which is not permitted on religious grounds? The Holy Scriptures do not support abortion for any reason.
Thus, this is a challenge to a Christian or other religious faithful, who finds herself in this kind of situation. I think we should resort to absolute trust in God and surrender to Him when it comes to critical issues of life as this.
Every child has the right to life and to play his role in life, therefore an early detection of a baby’s condition with Down syndrome can make the parents access information and Medicare that will help in his upbringing and training in order to bring out the best in him or her.
Health problems associated with Down syndrome:
Hearing loss; this affects a majority of them;
sleep obstruction i.e. their breath may temporarily cease at night;
eye diseases; and
There are quite a number of health conditions they are prone to,some are mentioned here while some are not. The ones not mentioned are less common with them. It is worthy of note that children with Down syndrome are to be in constant medical supervision by qualified medical personnel. This will ensure proper and prompt treatment should any of these health problems show up. Parents of children with Down syndrome should not be afraid of the medical conditions enumerated above, it is not that your children would have them compulsorily but they are at a higher risk of having them more than other children.
Down syndrome Compared with other Neuro-Developmental Disorders
Often times we see children with varying categories of neuro-developmental disorders, these vary in the order of severity,and they are disorders that affect the brain. The brain controls and co-ordinates the functions of the body, such conditions are these: Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, and others.
Some of these conditions are caused by gene malformation, while some could occur as a result of external factors bordering on the issue of ante-natal care, nutritional factors, hormonal imbalance etc. Down syndrome is purely genetic, a child with Down syndrome will experience delay in both intellectual and physical development. Apart from retardation in growth, the part of the brain that is mostly affected in children with Down syndrome is the part that controls the intellectual ability, thereby making learning cumbersome for most of them, but they can reason, think well and will be able to take care of their needs with time.
However, there are other conditions also which many assume to be the same as Down syndrome but certainly not. Such conditions are what are known as idiocy, imbecility, and the likes. The word ‘idiot’commonly used as an abusive word in a typical Nigerian society is termed in medicine as Profound Intellectual Disability (PID). It is a more severe condition than Down syndrome.
Children with this sort of disability find it difficult to perform intellectual activities as well as care for their needs at the normal age of their mates who do not have this challenge. It is otherwise known as psychomotor challenges, but imbecility is less severe than idiocy. These clarifications are being made here not to criticise nor embarrass but to keep the public informed about the characteristics of most of the challenges in children, so that the affected parents should know the degree of the conditions and the better way to care for their affected children and not to dump them as hopeless.
Remember,Down syndrome is the condition of a child born with an extra genetic material, which causes delay in his or her physical development, and intellectual disability. These conditions are however different from emotional and psychological disorders.
Generally, children with intellectual disability may learn to crawl and walk later than other children without the conditions. There challenges are better summarised as follows:
Delay in oral language development;
deficit in memory skills;
slowness in learning social rules;
delay in acquiring problem-solving skills; and
delay in the development of adaptive behaviours such as self-help and care skills.
Such children need a lot of repetition before each activity is registered in their minds. The truth is that a child with Down syndrome may take three to four years before it can utter a speech; though this depends on the level of severity and sometimes the degree of care offered by parents or care givers. Whereas other infants take about three months to have their necks stable, children with Down Syndrome get theirs stable at six months or more as the case may be. They may also crawl at one year or more; and walk at two years or more. It all depends on how severe the case is.
Please note that these delays are caused by the genetic error we have described earlier. These children also have problems with their bone marrow which account for the reason why their bones are relatively elastic and softer than other children’s. The elasticity and softness of their bones also make their bodies softer than other children’s.
This condition is often misunderstood by some traditionalists and superstitious illiteratesto mean the child is a python-incarnate. Some of these children equally tend to stick their tongues out as a result of not closing their mouths often times. Time and patience are needed to correct them to close their mouths.
Moreover, they sometimes exhibit disruptive behaviours, which are also being misinterpreted as psychic or emotional disorder by many who do not know much about their condition. The reason for all these details is to enable the parents or care givers of babies with Down syndrome, who are laymen get properly acquainted with the condition they are to manage or are managing as the case may be. The good news is that any condition that seems abnormal can actually be controlled or completely corrected.
Also proper information will help parents to evaluate the task ahead of them and be prepared to work hard and not trivialize the condition.
However, some children with Down syndrome do live healthy lives like other children but delay in mental and physical development is mostly inevitable as I have mentioned initially. The brain of a child with Down syndrome works like a computer. In computer operation, the popular slogan is, ‘garbage in, garbage out’, that is – what one programmes into the computer system is what will be retrieved.
Moreover, because of the impact of the extra chromosome causing deficiency in the mental function of the child with Down syndrome, the brain does not give the desired instruction to every other part of the body. Thus, most of the functions of the brain are being introduced from the environment by care givers; this poses a lot of challenges to the parents and care givers. For example, children with Down syndrome mostly have challenges with oral language formation but they can imitate whatever they are taught overtime.
So, it is the responsibility of care givers to say more new words and simple sentences to them on daily basis. Tell them as many words as you would want them to learn. But they learn shorter words or sentences faster than longer words or a longer sentence, which is why one needs to be patient with them. Whatever one stores in them is what one gets back.
Isaac my son is four years old now (2015), and he has learnt to say many of the words or sentences I have taught him as well as some of the Christian songs he hears us sing, especially in our morning devotions. Yet, he has not been able to communicate most of his needs as other children at his age bracket could do. Nevertheless,success stories of others in his condition give us confidence that he will eventually get there too. What mattersis the ability to talk, which he has already. The tendency of not speaking very well like other children may be there for a while, probably as a result ofthe impact of the retardation on the tongue.However, teaching him persistently onhow to speak or pronouncewordswill make him fare better than his contemporaries abandoned to their fate. Engaging a speech therapist would be beneficial also.
…to be continued….