Occupational therapy for children with intellectual disabilities using the example of trisomy 21 (down syndrome), dr

Intellectual disability is a collective term for diverse manifestations and degrees of expression of intellectual restrictions. Children with a mental disability can show different levels of development in the motor, socio-emotional and cognitive area. With certain impairments, it is possible for them to find their way largely independently in adulthood without external assistance. With others, it is possible that they need 24-hour care to find their way in everyday life.

Down syndrome, or trisomy 21, is a chromosome aberration that is the most common chromosome disorder with 1 in 650 births. It leads to a cognitive retardation (= delayed development) of different dimensions and a number of physical characteristics. The decisive factor in Down syndrome is chromosome 21, which is present in triplicate; in normal children, this can only be seen in duplicate.

How can occupational therapy for Down syndrome take place??

It is important to find out where the child is currently in its development stage. Occupational therapy is based on the different areas of a child’s life and their skills. If the child has difficulty expressing himself or herself around the world, it is important to set this as a goal. Both the improvement of verbal and non-verbal communication can be the goal.

If there are more aggressive behavior patterns, it is helpful to give those affected a chance to relax, e.g. B. the Snoezelen (see article: "Snozelen in children with intellectual disabilities". After such a relaxation phase it is the children it is often possible to respond to offers of games that it previously refused and refused. This enables new patterns of action to be learned.

It is important to adapt the environment to the child. Various aids can be used to offer support to the child from an infant / toddler age in order to acquire self-help skills and develop linguistic or motor skills with support.

Children with Down syndrome also show difficulties in their overall development, as it is much slower than their peers. In treatment, it is therefore particularly important to be attentive to the child’s individual pace respect, think highly of to avoid being overwhelmed.

In occupational therapy, it is also important to involve the parents. In particular, the approach to everyday actions can be trained together with the parents, so that a transfer of the treatment goals into that home Environment occurs faster.

In order to give these children the opportunity to develop the language adequately, the participation of all family members and the entire closer social environment is required, e.g. the parents, siblings, teachers, kindergarten teachers, all who are concerned with the environment of the child.

The long-term goal of occupational therapy is to pursue the maximum level of development. The focus is on enabling participation in society and offering the child the greatest possible independence. Through targeted training of everyday actions and social interactions, the child should trust both in itself and in the environment.

If you have any questions or suggestions in this regard, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely, Priscilla Nkembo-Anza | Dr. Frank & Partner Munich


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