Causes and Risks of Down’s Syndrome. Initially, I would like to mention what is Down syndrome (DS). Down syndrome, also referred to as Trisomy 21, is a situation in which additional genetic material played a significant role in the way a child matures, both physically and intellectually.
It is a genetic disease that affects approximately one in every 1,000 babies. Each person has 46 chromosomes, which are divided into 23 pairs. Each man’s sperm has 23 chromosomes and each woman’s egg is the same, so that when the arrest takes place and the sperm fertilizes the egg, shaped a young man with a full complement of chromosomes. Sometimes mistakes are made and caused chromosomal abnormalities. Down syndrome is one of them. A child born with Down’s syndrome has an extra chromosome in every cell in his body.
So far, we do not know what causes the presence of an extra chromosome. It can come from either the mother or the father. It is significant to remember though that faults in chromosome distribution are not rare. However, there is a specific link with older mothers. Most babies with Down syndrome are born to women under the age of 35, simply because as a woman reaches the latter years of her reproductive life, the probability of a fault in chromosome distribution rises progressively. What we do know is that nobody should be blamed. A child with Down syndrome is likely to be born in any family, almost with the same rate in any population. It can happen to everyone.
Although Down syndrome can’t be averted, it can be discerned before a child is born. For those parents who have a proportionately high recurrence risk for Down’s syndrome, future pregnancies can be monitored by chromosome studies on fetal amniotic cells, with early termination of the pregnancy when the fetus is destined to have Down’s syndrome. The health difficulties that can go together with DS can be dealt with, and there are many resources within communities to help kids and their families who are living with the situation.
At this point, I should mention that the syndrome was first noted by British physician John Langdon Down (hence the name), where in 1866, he noticed that many people having no connection with each other, located in different institutions, had similar physical characteristics. It was not until 1959, however, that an additional chromosome was recognized as the cause.
Types of Syndrome Down
There are three major types of the Down syndrome. The child is likely to have Trisomy 21, i.e. the presence of additional genetic material on the 21st pair of chromosomes (three 21 chromosomes instead of two). About 95 percent of people who have Down syndrome have Trisomy 21. The remaining 5% of the population composed of two other types:
The removable type, due to partial or total binding on chromosome 21 with another chromosome, which, in fact, is the extra chromosome pair 21. This type creates important implications for subsequent births and its consequences should be investigated by a specialist geneticist.
The mosaic type, the people of this type have cells that other have three chromosomes 21 and other normally two. The ratio of prevalence of these two cell types is random. It is the most rare type of syndrome Down. Moreover, there are slight external features of the syndrome, the children have fewer health problems and also slight mental retardation.
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder characterized by a variety of physical and mental problems, which result to slow development in all aspects. We cannot always predict with assurance the degree of cognitive and behavioral development of children with DS, since this depends on the education, the family environment, the accompanying problems and also the attitudes of society in which the child lives . However, we can assure that within the appropriate school context, which in most cases should be the mainstream school, and with appropriate supportive assistance, 80-% of children can be trained successfully on social skills and acquire basic school knowledge.
It is important before we deal with the education of a person with DS to know the particularities of learning and to take into account both the selection of learning objects and the teaching method we are going to use (Polychronopoulos, 2001). Like in all the other children we also find large individual differences in the physical, mental and psychological characteristics in DS people. However,there are many features that affect their education and need to know who deal with it.
Another difficulty the people with Down Syndrome confront is the auditory memory, which is the ability to listen, to process and understand the sounds, thus distinguishing the stimuli. The lack of auditory memory makes worse the processing of auditory information and makes it almost impossible to acquire fundamental knowledge grammar and syntax. Fortunately, the long-term memory, which allows us to withdraw persons, events and processes of the past, works well. It has also been found that in contrast to the auditory memory, the visual memory is more effective, a significant element which should be considered when deciding how to present information to these students (Sue Buckley and Angela Byrne, 1994 ).
The skills of children with Down syndrome in arithmetic are not yet sufficiently investigated, we know that in this area the children with Down syndrome encounter the most difficulties. The delayed and deficient language development is one of the reasons for this difficulty. Language is an indispensable tool for thinking,comparison and manipulation of objects and activities and also is a link to the numerical system. So people are finding difficult to perform such cognitive functions and to follow the instructions and explanations of the teacher. The limited short-term memory is another important reason for difficulties encountered by children with Down Syndrome.
To be able to perform additional activities such as add, subtract or multiply numbers with our minds, we must be able to maintain information briefly in our short memory. That is why people with Down confront many difficulties to make calculations, unless they have ahead of them, specifically things. These children are stuck at the stage of concrete thinking and are unable to move to the abstract-symbolic thinking.