Early Intervention

IMG_4950

The importance of early intervention for children with Down Syndrome cannot be stressed enough. It is through early intervention that a child with Down Syndrome is able to get the best chance at achieving his or her potential later in life. New parents of children with Down syndrome often get confused between the meaning of Early Intervention and therapy. Early intervention refers to a comprehensive program of physical therapy, exercise and activity designed for a child’s specific needs, typically from birth to 3 years of age. It helps in each of the four main areas of development: gross motor and fine motor skills, language, social development and self-help skills.

When should early intervention start?

Early Intervention should begin any time shortly after birth, and continue until the child reaches age three. The sooner early intervention begins, the better, however, it’s never too late to start. Once it is determined that your baby has Down Syndrome, you may contact therapists and specialists who can help with designing an early intervention program for your child. KDSP can help you in connecting with such therapists. For more information please contact us on info@kdsp.org.pk

How can early intervention benefit a child with Down syndrome?

Early intervention can help in many ways. During the first three to four months of life, for example, an infant is expected to gain head control and the ability to pull to a sitting positions (with help) with no head lags and enough strength in the upper torso to maintain an erect posture. Appropriate physical therapy may assist a baby with Down syndrome, who may have low muscle tone, in achieving this milestone.

One of the fine motor skills that an infant is expected to achieve is the ability to hold and reach for objects. Here again, the baby with Down syndrome may need help before mastering these tasks. Physical therapy and practice in achieving these and subsequent milestones can assist a baby with Down syndrome in the four areas of development. Early intervention can also prevent a child with Down syndrome from reaching a plateau at some point in development. Thus, the goal of early intervention programs is to enhance and accelerate development by building on a child’s strengths and by strengthening those areas that are weaker, in all areas of development.

Why does health affect development?

Health plays a major role in everyone’s well-being and progress, and this holds true for children with Down syndrome. For this reason, early intervention should begin with a thorough assessment of an infant’s health. All health concerns should receive prompt attention to prevent them from interfering with a child’s development.

What can I expect in terms of my child’s potential and future development?

Early intervention, research and case histories have shown that children with Down syndrome have a far greater potential for learning and for functioning as contributing members of society than it was believed to be possible even 10 to 15 years ago. At the same time, we must remember that each child, whether he has Down syndrome or not, is a unique individual with his own strengths and weaknesses, his own abilities, as well as his own rate of development. Even when milestones are reached on schedule, expectations must be balanced. Low expectations will set limits on what a child can achieve. At the same time, unrealistically high expectations place undue burdens on a child, which may lead to failure. Acceptance of your child is the best approach. Optimistic, yet realistic, expectations plus the ability to recognize and reinforce the smallest increments of progress are the attitudes that are most likely to have a positive effect on development. In this way, early interventions succeed in maximizing achievement.

Source: NDSS Clinical Info: Early Intervention & Down Syndrome

Early Intervention at KDSP

KDSP offers occupational therapy and physical therapy as part of its Early Intervention Program at a subsidized rate of Rs. 500 per session.Therapy clinics are held from Tuesday to Saturday, each session lasting for 45 minutes. Get in touch with us if you wish to avail KDSP’s Early Intervention services for your child or wish to enquire more details.