Your baby will start to develop new skills from birth; most Down’s syndrome babies will learn skills such as talking, clapping and moving in the same way as other children but they may take longer to learn these skills. Usually Down’s syndrome children follow a pattern of development similar to the one outlined below, although each child is individual and may develop at a different rate.
- Smile: 1-4 months
- Roll over: 4-22 months
- Sit by themselves: 6-28 months
- Crawl: 7-21 months
- Feed themselves with their fingers: 8-28 months
- Talk (full words): 9-31 months
- Walk: 12-65 months
It is important to encourage your child’s development in the same way you would nurture and teach other children; this may include reading them books, showing them pictures, teaching them words and supporting them while they learn to crawl and walk. As well as spending time with your child and playing with them, it may be beneficial to get involved in an early intervention programme; these are designed to help children with learning difficulties and will enable them to learn new skills and target activities which are particularly difficult for Down’s syndrome children.
Most Down’s syndrome children attend their local primary school and are able to cope well with the work they are given; many receive additional help and support from their teachers in order to keep up with other children. Some parents choose to send their children to schools which are specially tailored to children with special needs; this is your choice but there are lots of resources online which may help you to make up your mind and there are also a number of charities which will be able to offer information and help you to decide.
Many parents fear that their children will be subjected to bullying because they look different to other children and struggle to grasp new skills; however, most Down’s syndrome are able to make new friends and adapt to school life very well. If, however, you are worried about your child you may find it beneficial to discuss the matter with your child’s teachers; this will help to reassure you. If you find out your child is being bullied do not hesitate to contact the relevant staff at the school; they will be able to deal with the situation and help your child to enjoy school.
Most Down’s syndrome children are able to join in with other activities at school such as sports and P.E; they may struggle to keep up with some of the other children but this shouldn’t really matter; try to reassure and encourage them as much as possible; this will boost their confidence and make it more enjoyable for them.