Down Syndrome

Children with Down Syndrome require early intervention to give them the opportunity to participate in life to the best of their ability.

“People with Down syndrome are people first of all, and require the love and care on which all of us thrive. People with Down syndrome can now lead more happy, independent and productive lives than ever dreamed possible, if we recognise their abilities and support their needs”.

– Down Syndrome NSW, What is Down Syndrome

Child First Paediatric Therapy provides an interdisciplinary team of therapists including Occupational Therapists,Speech Pathologists and Physiotherapists.  Some children with Down Syndrome will use only one of the therapies but other children will be looked after by a combination to best meet their goals.

Our team of paediatric therapists is experienced in working with children with Down Syndrome and their families.  The assessment process includes a comprehensive examination of your child’s difficulties using a range of standardised and non-standardised assessments.  Taking time to learn about the concerns and difficulties your child encounters in everyday life also forms an important component of our assessment.

Following the initial assessment, your therapists will work closely with you and your child to tailor an individual treatment program based on the specific needs of your family.

Children with Down syndrome experience a wide range of challenges which alter as they move through the stages of life.  The therapy programs are goal orientated, with your child’s therapist supporting you to implement strategies into the home or educational environment.

Early motor development
  • Children with Down syndrome experience hypotonia which causes babies to feel very floppy when picked up.  Their joints are also very loose due to a longer length of ligaments than typically developing children
  • These symptoms mean your baby will find it more difficult to learn gross motor skills like rolling, sitting or crawling
  • Physiotherapy can help to develop strength and assist with learning of early motor skills
  • Muscle weakness and hypotonia can affect your child’s ability to manage food and swallow
  • Optimal nutrition is important for every child’s development and our specialist paediatric Speech Pathologists are able to assist with your child’s feeding.  Strategies used include advice, exercise and treatment
Communication skills and behaviour
  • Difficulties with communication are one of the biggest barriers people with Down syndrome face every day.  Sometimes a child can be labelled as having a behavioural problem, when in fact the cause is frustration with inability to communicate the desired message
  • At Child First Paediatric Therapy, our Speech Pathologists are experienced in helping children to communicate to their full potential.  They also work closely with our Occupational Therapists to address any true behavioural issues which impact on everyday life.
Fine Motor Skills
  • A combination of hypotonia and reduced coordination skills leads to children with Down syndrome to have difficulty with fine motor skills.  These impact on all areas of everyday life, for example using cutlery, doing up buttons or colouring in
  • Our specialised paediatric therapists will be able to work with your child to increase dexterity and ability through exercise and task specific training, to gain independence in everyday tasks
Going to school or preschool
  • Choosing a school or pre-school is a difficult decision for all parents, especially if you have a child with special needs.  At Child First Paediatric Therapy, we enjoy a close working relationship with many educational facilities and are experienced in supporting you with the decision making process
  • Once you have made your choice, we can work closely with the school to ensure your child is well supported using therapy techniques to assist their educational, social and physical  development
Personal care skills
  • Learning how to wash, dress and toilet plays a large part in our early development.  Personal care tasks are complex activities which call on physical, cognitive (thinking) and communication skills
  • Children with Down Syndrome may require additional assistance to master these activities.  At Child First Paediatric Therapy, our interdisciplinary model assists with gaining an in depth understanding of the problems your child faces and how to overcome them
Sport and higher level motor skills
  • As your child grows and progresses through life, they may encounter difficulties with more complex motor skills like hopping, skipping, running or jumping.  Mastering these skills is important for participation in sport at school and with the family
  • Our specialised Paediatric Physiotherapists will be able to work with your child so they are confident with sport and energetic play to develop a healthy life style