Down’s Syndrome is a genetic condition caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21. Chromosomes are in terms the 'building blocks' that give us our individual characteristics, for example, blue eyes, blonde hair etc. Similarly, people with Down’s Syndrome, who share this extra chromosome, also share common physical features. It's important to remember that the shared traits are no indication of future ability, or capability to learn.
A person with Down’s syndrome will have some degree of learning disability, but the level of ability will be different for each individual.
People who have Down’s syndrome are all unique individuals and should be acknowledged as a person first and foremost. Down’s syndrome is only a part of the person; they should never be referred to as “a Down’s” or “a Down’s person”.
A young person with Down's syndrome might take longer than other children their age to reach certain milestones and to develop certain skills. Young people and adults with Down’s syndrome may have difficulties with:
Many people with Down’s Syndrome are prone to colds and infection. They have reduced nasal cavities, which contribute to this because of the increase in catarrh. This in turn can affect hearing that if left untreated can lead to problems with learning.
The shape of a person with Down’s syndrome’s mouth and tongue can affect breathing and articulation, which can lead to speech difficulties. Learning difficulties associated with Down’s syndrome can also mean a delay in language acquisition, difficulties understanding language and difficulties clearly using words and sentences.
Can be impaired and because of the small or absent bridge of the nose the young person may find it difficult to keep their glasses on.
Mobility is not generally a problem with young people with Down’s Syndrome unless they have multiple disabilities. Some young people may experience difficulties with co-ordination and gait.
Some individual may experience difficulty in chewing food and may need extra time to finish meals.
It's not unusual for individual’s with Down’s syndrome to have heart difficulties and all adults in Scouting need to be aware of needs and how to manage and support these.
It's important to note that not all young people with Down’s Syndrome have all these difficulties. They may also not all exist at once. Many individuals will have learned to manage things in their own way.