Teaching Children and Adults with Rare Diseases

February 28th is the official day of bringing awareness to rare diseases. According to the National Institutes of Health, in the United States, a rare disease is defined as a condition that affects fewer than 200,000 people. Definition of rare disease vary from country to county. In Europe affect 1in 2,000 people and in Canada, more than 3.5 million or 10percent of the population are diagnosed with a rare disease.

Facts You Should Know About Rare Diseases

  • There are over 300 million people living with one or more of over 6,000 identified rare diseases around the world
  • Each rare disease may only affect a handful of people but taken together directly affected is equivalent to the population of the world’s third largest country.
  • rare diseases currently affect 3.5%-5.9% of the worldwide population.
  • 72% of rare diseases are genetic while others are the result of infections.(bacterial or viral).
  • 70% of those genetic diseases start in childhood
  • About 30 million people or 1 in 10 people in the United States are affected by a rare disease
  • 95% of rare diseases do not have FDA-approval treatment.

Most children diagnosed with rare diseases are more than likely to also exhibit some form of learning disabilities including intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, speech and motor issues. Also, you may find in addition to an intellectual disabilities, students may also have medical issues including epilepsy and ongoing medical concerns.

While it is impossible to know and remember all of the signs and symptoms of rare diseases, the key is to teaching students based on their level of development. The following are useful teaching strategies when teaching students diagnosed with a rare disease:

  1. Teaching should include using multisensory teaching strategies by engaging students on multiple levels by encouraging students to use their senses. This is done by utilizing learning that includes visual (text, pictures, flash cards), auditory (music, songs),tactile (textured items, clay), kinesthetic (games, movement activities), taste ( cooking activities).
  2. Use concrete items and give examples
  3. Use hands on material as much as possible
  4. Break longer, new task into smaller task. Use task analysis.
  5. In some instances, children may have tactile and sensory issues.Signs include over and under reacting to pain, avoiding messy textures, picky eaters, and reacting to loud and sudden noises. Strategies include using a sensory diet and create activities using play doh or silly putty.

The following are articles and links to further information on rare diseases found in this blog:

Aicardi Syndrome– A rare genetic disorder that occurs in 1 in 105,000 to 167,000 newborns in the United states and occurs exclusively in females. People with Aicardi Syndrome often have undeveloped tissue which connects the left and right halves of the brain.

Angelman Syndrome– A genetic disorder that affects the nervous system. Characteristics include developmental delays, intellectual disabilities and speech impairments.

Chromosome 22q11.2 (DiGeorge Syndrome)- a rare disorder that is caused by deletion in chromosome 22 located specifically in the middle of the chromosome in the area. It affects 1 out of 4,000 births. Symptoms include developmental delays, poor muscle tone, learning development and feeding issues.

Cri Du Chat– A rare genetic disorder that results when a piece of the 5p Chromosome is deleted. Characteristics include intellectual disability, hyperactivity, and developmental delay.

Dravet Syndrome– A rare form of epilepsy found in children. Symptoms include developmental delays, sleeping conditions, and chronic infections.

Duchenne Muscular– Occurs in 1 out of 3,600 male infants and is characterized by progressive muscle degeneration. early signs include muscle weakness in the hips, pelvic area, thighs and shoulder affecting delayed motor skills, sitting and walking.

Landau Kleffner– Characterized by the gradual or sudden loss of language in children between the ages of 5 and 7.

Lowe Syndrome– Is a rare genetic disorder that affects the eyes, brain and kidneys. It has a prevalence of 1 in 500,000 and mainly affects males.

Prader Willi– A genetic disorder resulting from an abnormality of chromosome 15. It is found in 1 in 20,000 births affecting both sexes. It is also the most common recognized genetic form of obesity.

Rett Syndrome– A neurodevelopmental disorder occurring mostly in females in which the child exhibits reduce muscle tone, and autistic-like behaviors including hand movements consisting of wringing and waving. It is a rare disorder that affects about 1 out of 10,000 children.

Williams Syndrome– A rare disorder with a prevalence of 1 in 7,500 to 20,000 caused by the deletion of genetic material from chromosome 7. Signs and symptoms include moderate intellectual disabilities and learning disabilities.

 

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