Down’s syndrome children deserve respect and care, says health ministry


Ms René leading the workshop yesterday

The workshop was conducted by the rehabilitative service department at the Ministry of Health, which comprises physiotherapists, speech and occupational therapists and audiologists.

The head of the rehabilitative unit, Patricia René, said the occasion marked the international day for persons affected by Down’s syndrome.

Ms René said that it was up to society to respect and educate children with the condition, as they have the right to be treated with dignity and care just like any other child.

She said they should be given every opportunity to develop their talents and potential so that they can live active and useful lives.

“After all, the state recognises the right of every child to education and to work,” said Ms René.
During the workshop, parents were told more about the condition and how children initially have little or no control over their limbs and spine. They are deemed to be “hyper-flexible” and often do not stand or sit normally, because their ligaments are abnormally long in the legs and shoulders.

Often in these early years, it is up to the parents and caregivers to encourage them to slowly adopt proper postures. Special training is also required to help the children build up their walking patterns, body symmetry and coordination.

Down’s syndrome affects children’s ability to learn in different ways, but most have mild to moderate intellectual impairment. Children born with Down’s syndrome can and do learn, and are capable of developing skills throughout their lives.

They simply reach goals at a different pace – which is why it is important not to compare a child with the condition against typically developing siblings or even other children with the same condition.

Children with Down’s syndrome can grow up to have a wide range of abilities, and there is no way to tell at birth what they will be capable of as they get older.

The therapists stressed that patience is of the essence to prompt patients with Down’s syndrome to move and interact properly with others.

The School for the Exceptional Child cares for 55 pupils, who live with various disabilities. Parents and coordinators were urged to take time to help them to overcome their disabilities and build up their confidence so that they can lead productive and fulfilling lives.