Many millions of people around the world have disabilities physical and/or mental, but the good news is that many of these people have found ways to have a healthy, happy, and functional life in spite of their medical disabilities and other differences. A diagnosis such as for Down Syndrome, autism, or other conditions is not necessarily something to dread. Many Americans and others with such conditions have grown up to have a good education and become successful adults, and many start families of their own. This may be true for a Down Syndrome education as well, and many children and teenagers with this condition have even graduated high school and attended college. Kids with Down Syndrome vary in capability and personal needs like anyone else, but their parents can enroll them in a Down Syndrome education or even public schooling. Babies with Down Syndrome may have a successful life ahead of them, and in any case, a Down Syndrome education may prove fruitful and fulfilling. Parenting a child with Down Syndrome, meanwhile, may be a joy like raising any other child, and the same is true of autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. What might this entail?
Down Syndrome and ASD
What is there to know about these conditions? They are more prevalent than some Americans may realize, but these individuals may get a fair education and career all the same and integrate well with society. In the United States today, about one in 700 babies is born with Down Syndrome, and this totals to about 6,000 births per year. Meanwhile, ASD presents in as many as one in 100 or one in 60 babies, and the total autistic population in the United States is actually quite large.
Down Syndrome is a result of extra genetic material in chromosome 21, and has physical and mental symptoms. Such individuals tend to have slowed growth (thus being shorter than their peers), and have distinctive facial features, especially with the ears and eyes. Down Syndrome individuals may also have slowed mental development, but this may vary among different individuals. This could even be described as a spectrum, as some DS individuals are capable of normal speech and learning while others have much more serious developmental assistance needs. But with the right Down Syndrome education, nearly any DS individual may have a productive and meaningful life.
ASD varies even more widely, and it has few physiological symptoms but a wide variety of mental ones. Someone with ASD may have any combination of mental symptoms in varying degrees of intensity. These range from a need for physical self-stimulation of the arms or hands for comfort during stress all the way to social anxiety, sensory issues, and narrow interests and preoccupations, among many others. Higher functioning ASD individuals may in fact have above-average intelligence, and may prove highly successful in their chosen fields. Many scientists and computer engineers, ranging from Albert Einstein to Isaac Newton to Alan Turing and even Steve Jobs may have had higher-functioning ASD (formerly known as Asperger’s Syndrome).
Educational Needs and Development
A child with Down Syndrome or ASD may be diagnosed as early as age two, on basis of their different mental development and habits compared to other children their age. A pediatrician may be asked to diagnose such a child, and doing so early allows parents and educators alike to accommodate any and all of the child’s special needs. Some DS or ASD children may be able to integrate into regular classrooms and schools, such as higher functioning ASD individuals, but others may have special needs and will be in a class that is designed to educate them at their own pace. Many classes or even entire schools may be dedicated to special education, and teach these students everything from age-appropriate mathematics and language skills to gross motor skills or social skills, which may be stunted somewhat in these students due to their condition. Fortunately, a special education will allow these students to learn what they must and more effectively move on to higher levels of education and become better-functioning members of adult society later on. Such classes can be great fun for the students and are taught by specially-trained teachers who can nurture their particular needs at any age.