Thanksgiving is the day set aside in the United States and Canada as a day of pausing to reflect all that we are thankful for by connecting with friends and family over good food. It is also the day of taking special precautions when serving people with developmental disabilities.
Aspiration is a huge risk during the holiday season. Factors that place people at risk for aspiration includes the following:
Being fed by someone else
Poor chewing or swallowing skills
Weak or absent coughing/gagging reflexes which is common in people with cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy
Eating to quickly
Inappropriate fluid consistency
Inappropriate food texture
For children and adults with autism, Thanksgiving may be a challenge for a variety of reasons:
Sensory and emotional overload with large groups
Difficulty with various textures of food
To help you mange Thanksgiving with ease, click on the articles below:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS) is considered one of the conditions affecting 2% to 4% of adults with Down syndrome and as they get older, the prevalence increases to 37% of men and 50% of women.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
It is a common disorder due to repetitive episodes of different breathing while sleeping due to upper airway collapse. The obstruction occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fails to keep the airway open.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs of obstructive sleep apnea in individuals with Down syndrome include:
Excessive daytime sleeping
Daytime mouth breathing
According the Down Syndrome Association, the following techniques will help with sleeping during the night:
a nightly routine at bedtime
a bedroom that is free of distractions (e.g. cut out any unwanted light or noise)
regular sleeping hours
regular exercise and activities
avoidance of caffeine and other stimulants in the evening
Today is the last day to recognize Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
You can download a free printed copy of the Down syndrome fact sheet, providing information on the types, prevalence, definition, signs and symptoms, and teaching strategies. Further information includes a list of Down syndrome organizations and foundations.
Down Syndrome is a chromosomal disorder caused by an extra cell division that results in an extra 21st chromosome. This causes developmental delays both intellectually and physically. The disorder is named after John Langdon Down, a British physician who was the first to describe the syndrome in 1866. The disorder was later identified by Jerome LeJeune in 1959 as a condition associated by the chromosome structure. Down syndrome is the most common chromosome disorder. Each year, about 6,000 babies are born with Down syndrome.
An estimate of 1 in 700 babies born. The life expectancy of people with Down syndrome increased between 1960 and 2007. In 1960, an average person with Down syndrome lived to be 10 years old compared to 2007 with people with Down syndrome living to 47 years of age. Often, people born with Down syndrome may develop health issues and a cognitive development ranging from mild to severe. There is often a speech delay and children may lag behind with fine and gross motor skills. Physical characteristics may include a flat nasal bridge, single, deep creases across the center of the palm, protruding tongue, large space between the large and second toe, low muscle tone, almond shape to the eyes.
The causes of Down syndrome is due to an extra copy of chromosome 21 in every cell. This is the most common form of Down syndrome. It represents 94% of all cases of Down syndrome. Congenital heart failure affects 300,000 or 40% of individuals with Down syndrome. There are 3 types:
atrioventricular septal defect (AV Canal)- a condition caused by the Septum failure to close properly. This occurs during the embryonic stage and results in a large opening at the center of the heart.
Persistent Ductus Arteriosus- when a tube that continues to exists after a baby is born. It is a persistent opening between the two major blood vessels leading from the heart.
Tetralogy of Fallot- a heart condition composed of four abnormalities: 1) Ventricular Septal Defect 2) a narrowing of the passage from the right ventricular to the lungs 3) an over enlarged right ventricle due to blood back up 4) an over enlarged aorta, which carries blood from the left ventricle to the body.
Congenital Heart Disease can range from severe to mild. Typically, students do not require special care. For those with more severe heart issues, be aware of the signs and symptoms of a student heart disease is getting worse. This include:
Arrhythmia, an abnormal heart rhythm that can cause the heart to beat fast or too slow
Congenital heart failure- when the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to meet the needs of the body.
Pulmonary hypertension- a type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in the lungs and the right side of the heart.
Signs and symptoms include:
shortness of breath
fatigue and weakness
rapid or irregular heartbeat
Things to be aware of in students with Heart Issues:
Tires easily or becomes short of breath after exercise
Obesity is a major health concern and is more common in individuals with Down syndrome than the general population. Obesity is defined as excessive fact accumulation that increases health risk. It is an abnormal accumulation of body fact usually 20% of a person’s ideal body weight.
Medical complications of obesity includes sleep apnea, lung disease, pancreatitis, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, inflamed veins and gout. When the body mass increases, so does the risk of having a heart attack or heart failure.
In a study published by the American Association Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities found a difference between studies on children versus adults with Down syndrome. Children with Down syndrome have consistently been found to exhibit a reduced resting metabolic rate meaning children with Down syndrome are at a great risk for weight gain since they will burn fewer calories. at rest during activities.
Children with Down syndrome also tend to have a condition known as hypothyroidism. Approximately 10 percent of children with Down syndrome have hypothyroidism. As children with Down syndrome get older, eating behaviors change leading to obesity (Approximately 30%). These changes may be due to low muscle tone or inactivity due to thyroid problems or heart conditions.
Exercise and recreation are crucial to the well-being of individuals with Down syndrome. The following are strategies for helping to maintain weight control and to live longer and healthier lives:
Develop a regular exercise program. According to Drs. Chicoine and McGuire, authors of The Guide to Good Health for Teens and Adults with Down syndrome, Exercise should be free of risk. Push ups and weightlifting are not appropriate due to many people with Down syndrome who have issues with the upper 2 vertebrates.
Swimming is an effective exercise. Many pool have walking exercises in the pool as well.
Exercise should be fun, socially and realistic.
For older adults with Down syndrome, look for teachable moments to teach portion control, drinking enough fluids, and eating a well-balanced meal.
Chicoine, B. and McGuire, B. (2010). The Guide to Good Health for Teen and Adults with Down Syndrome. Bethesda, MD
Section 504 is a federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education (Edefines a physical or mental impairment as any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
Annual awareness observances are sponsored by federal, health and non-profit organizations. Awareness campaigns serve the purpose of informing and educating people on a certain causes. Each year, the number of special needs organizations bringing awareness to specific disabilities and disorders seem to grow. Awareness activities range from one day to a month. Here is a calendar of major special needs awareness months, weeks, and days. Most websites include awareness toolkits, promotional materials and fact sheets. Since it is still early in the year, some of the campaigns still have 2018 campaigns on their websites. I will add new information once the changes are up on the websites.
Sequence is defined as a set of related events, movements, or things that follow each other in a particular order. For many children and adults with developmental delays and disabilities, the ability to arrange thoughts, information and language may be a challenge due to issues with their executive function capabilities. The following resources, tips and strategies will help you teach sequencing skills.
Down syndrome (Trisomy 21) is a chromosomal disorder due to 3 copies of chromosome 21, causing a number of developmental delays, medical and physical disabilities. Learning is one of the areas that is affected by the disorder. Children born with Down syndrome typically have delays in the area of gross and fine motor skills, thinking, short attention span, speech and language difficulties and sequencing. The following links and resources include information on tips and strategies for teaching children with Down syndrome for both parents and teachers.