We are all familiar to the characteristics of children or adults with Down syndrome. Their facial features – flat faces and eyes that slant upward – are sufficient to point out people with Down syndrome. Many people consider Down syndrome to be a mental problem. Although there are mental health is involved in a certain scale, in people with Down syndrome, the cause is not due to any mental deformity. This essay strives to understand Down syndrome.
Down syndrome occurs due to a problem with chromosomes. What are chromosomes? These are small structures in the cells comprising of genes. Genes decide what a person’s hair color, eyes and other characteristics should be. Plus, genes decide whether a person is a girl or boy. Most people are born with 23 pairs of chromosomes totaling 46. However, babies born with Down syndrome have an extra chromosome which causes problems with the way their bodies develop.
Medical problems are common problems for children with this condition. Most of them suffer with heart problems. Primarily, these children’s hearts developed differently and will not function in the same manner as others. Intestinal problems too are common. Both these problems can, most often, be corrected with surgery. Children with this condition are also more prone to illness. They may suffer with asthma and infections. Almost all children with this condition have either one or more illnesses and suffer with it longer than others.
Children with Down syndrome can also be affected mentally. They will have behavioral and emotional problems. They may suffer with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), depression and anxiety. They may also show symptoms of autism, display aggression, repetitive movements and social withdrawal. Adults with Down syndrome are more likely to be affected with dementia than others. This is because they possess the extra gene. Other mental health issues affecting people with Down syndrome include obsessive compulsive disorder and sleep difficulties. Environmental and psychosocial stressors can affect a child’s or adult’s behavior. For example, an illness or a death in the family can lead to complications where the person’s grief is concerned. This loss may affect his or her ability to think, remember, process information etc. In these instances, therapy is necessary to help the child or adult to better handle the situation.
Most children with Down syndrome have thyroid problems which lead to various other problems. Hypothyroidism is extremely common in people with Down syndrome. They can also have problems with weight and if unchecked this can lead to obesity. It is important to consider these problems as they can be avoided with either medical treatment or proper nutritional attention.
There is no cure for Down syndrome. However, a positive outlook on life and integrated special education strategies has shown to make a positive impact on the lives of these people. How they handle their lives depends on how we react to them and how we understand them. With proper understanding of Down syndrome, we can educate ourselves in order to properly understand and accept these people into our lives.