DISABILITIES

 

Down Syndrome

What is it?

A genetic (inborn or inherited) disorder, leading to challenges with cognition (thinking) and learning as well as some unique physical, medical and developmental issues.


Cause

Trisomy 21 – 3 copies (instead of 2) on chromosome 21 ("tri" means "3" and "somy" refers to "chromosomes"). We all have 26 pairs ("body") chromosomes and "1" pair ("sex") chromosomes – either XX for femal and XY for males.


Incidence

It's the commonest inherited cause of intellectual disabilities. Researchers have established that the likelihood that a reproductive cell will contain an extra copy of chromosome 21 increases dramatically as a woman ages.


Common Physical Traits

All have resemblance or physical features in common, which makes them easily recognizable: flattened facial profile, upward slant eyes, low muscle tone (this makes them appear open-mouthed as well) and a single deep crease across the centre of 1 or both palms.


Other traits (not visible)

Medical Issues, like Congenital Heart Disease. (>80%) abnormalities of the gastrointestinal system, hearing and / or visual impairment, some type/s of hormonal problems e.g. thyroid, intellectual disabilities (mild-moderate-severe).


How is it diagnosed?

  • Recognition of clinical features: Usual method used.
  • Genetic Testing - not routinely carried out, cannot predict long term outcome or potential of the child or even how severely all the features will be.


Management

May not need all types of therapies during life span:
  • Speech Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy (OT)
  • Physical Therapy or Physiotherapy (PT)
  • Special Education – Some are able to attend a regular or mainstream school and some cases even finish tertiary education.
  • Specialised Medical Care /Treatments

Cerebral Palsy or CP

What is it?

An umbrella term encompassing a group of non-progressive, non-contagious disorders that affect the parts of the brain that control the motor (movement) system.


Cause

Injury to the brain may occur prenatally, (e.g. infection in mother or extreme prematurity) during birth (lack of oxygen to the brain during the birth process) or shortly following birth (e.g. brain infection, meningitis) the injury must have occurred before the age of 2.


Incidence

2 in every 1000 births. (In the US)


Common Physical Traits

Changes in muscle tone, increased or decreased or both; spasticity ("stiffness of joints") and they may have unusual movements that they are unable to control voluntarily. CP may affect 1 limb, one side of the body or all 4 limbs.


Conditions

Conditions that may accompany or occur at the same time as CP include, visual impairment, challenges with communication (speech maybe difficult to understand), feeding disorders – leading to problems with growth and nutrition, seizures (epilepsy), learning disabilities or intellectual disabilities.


Note Worthy

Some persons with CP may have average or above average IQ and be able to do well at school and get a "good job" but may need certain accommodations for their physical challenges.


How is it diagnosed?

Clinical Earliest signs – delay in motor skills development. Often several medical evaluations are carried out in order to determine cause and to assess severity.


Management

May not need all types of therapy through out life:
  • Speech Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy (OT)
  • Physical Therapy or Physiotherapy (PT)
  • Special Education – Some are able to attend a regular or mainstream school and some cases even finish tertiary education.
  • Specialised Medical Care /Treatments e.g. for seizures, spasticity.

Autism

What is it?

A brain based developmental disability characterized by impaired social interactions and impaired verbal communication and by restricted and repetitive behaviour patterns. Symptoms usually begin before age 3.


Cause

Unknown, it is suspected that there might be a combination of genetic vulnerability as well as environmental factors


Incidence

Dec 2009-CDC-reports 1 in 110 births – varied due to many factors including differences in classification etc.


Common Signs

  • Lack of or delay in verbal and non verbal communication.
  • Repetitive use of language and / or motor mannerism (hand flapping, twirling objects, spinning).
  • Little or no eye contact.
  • Lack of interest in peer relationships.
  • Lack of spontaneous play of make-believe play.
  • Persistent fixation on certain parts of objects.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

What is it?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is one of a group of developmental disorders (Pervasive Developmental Disorders) which include: Classic Autism (Autism Spectrum Disorder) PDD-NOS: Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified Asperger's: "Atypical" Autism, kids with this condition frequently have good language skills, are socially awkward, do not understand social rules, and are of average to above average intellectually. Rett's: (rare) degenerative, very severe affects primarily females.


How it's diagnosed?

Appropriately trained professionals via specific clinical criteria.

Management

May not need all types of therapy through out life:
  • Speech Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy (OT)
  • Physical Therapy or Physiotherapy (PT)
  • Special Education – Some are able to attend a regular or mainstream school and some cases even finish tertiary education.
  • Behaviour Management
  • Specialised Medical Care /Treatments e.g. for seizures, mental health issues

Intellectual Disorder/Learning Disability

What is it?

It's a "hidden" disability which usually is specific to learning challenages in school or other academic settings.


Cause

Not well understood and sometimes there is no apparent cause for a learning disability.

Incidence

CDC cites 16% in boys and 8% in girls having Learning Disorders (LD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Report 2003(ADHD)

Types

  • Reading/Dyslexia – challenges with accurate or fluent word recognition, word decoding, reading rate, reading comprehension
  • Writing/Dysgraphia – Impairments in handwriting, spelling, organization of ideas and composition
  • Math/Dyscalculia – Difficulty with learning math concepts, memorizing math facts, difficulty organizing numbers and understanding how problems are organized on a page.

How is it diagnosed?

Appropriately trained professionals via specific clinical criteria.

Management

May not need all types of therapy through out life:
  • Speech Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy (OT)
  • Special Education – Some are able to attend a regular or mainstream school and some cases even finish tertiary education.

Sensory Processing Disorder

What is it?

It's a neurological disorder causing difficulty with sensory processing information from one or several of the five senses or the vestibular (balance) and v/or proprioceptive (the ability to sense the orientation of ones arms or legs in the air) sense.


Cause

Exact cause of SPD has not yet been identified.


Incidence

1 in 6 children may experience sensory symptoms that maybe significant in affecting aspects of daily life.


Common Signs

Problems with eating or sleeping Cannot calm self Over sensitive to touch, smell, taste, noises, other people Difficulty making friends Clumsy, poor motor skills, weak Easily distracted, fidgety, craves movement Poor self-esteem, afraid of failing at new tasks Always on the go, impulsive, easily distractible


How is it diagnosed?

Appropriately trained professionals via specific clinical criteria.


Management

May not need all types of therapy through out life: Speech Therapy Occupational Therapy (OT) Physical Therapy or Physiotherapy (PT) Special Education – Some are able to attend a regular or mainstream school and some cases even finish tertiary education. Behaviour Management Specialised Medical Care /Treatments e.g. for seizures, mental health issues