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Communication in Down syndrome: Big tongue issue

Overview of Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is a genetically inherited developmental disorder present right at birth. Down syndrome affects 1 in 800 live births in North America, and is characterized by additional genetic material passed on at conception. Individuals who do not suffer from genetic developmental disorders inherit 46 chromosomes, 23 from the mother and 23 from the father. Down syndrome persons inherit either one whole additional chromosome 22 or some of its genetic material, which leads to different intensities of the condition. Most parents of Down syndrome persons do not have any symptoms and are just the carriers for the condition. Further, many are unaware that they possess defective genes as there are no signs. The reason why some individuals receive extra genes is unknown but risk factors have been identified. Primarily, the age of the mother plays an important role in passing on Down syndrome. The older the woman is when she gets pregnant the higher the possibility of the incidence of the condition, especially over the age of 35. Although the exact causes are unclear there are preventative measures that are available at most hospitals with nurseries. Couples who are contemplating having children can get genetic counseling and be screened for potential hereditary disorders for which they are carriers. Also, once the woman gets pregnant her doctor can run tests that determine whether the fetus is likely to suffer from Down syndrome, giving her the option to terminate the pregnancy or prepare for raising a child with special needs.

Communicative Problems in Down Syndrome

The symptoms of Down syndrome are numerous and encompass everything from physical and health anomalies to cognitive impairment. Although the affected persons are able to read emotions better than people with similar cognitive abilities brought on by different developmental problems and thus engage in non verbal communication effectively, they have substantial difficulties when it comes to speech. Learning to speak is one of the most essential milestones that children reach as it is crucial for further development. Also, being able to communicate effectively increases the number of instances of social interactions with peers. Without somewhat developed speaking skills the child is unable to relate to parents, siblings, family members, or friends. Also, playing with other children is an important aspect of development and it is hindered by the inability to express needs, wishes, and thoughts verbally. Learning to speak is also closely linked to mental developments. The more words a child knows the more concepts he or she is familiar with. The rate at which children learn new words is directly proportionate to the rate of acquiring knowledge. As the child builds the language skills the words become the instruments for putting thoughts together. In turn, the child begins to think, reason, and remember. The inability to learn new words and translate them into speech hinders most cognitive functions and makes further development very challenging. In addition, speech problems also arise from the fact that most children with Down syndrome are hearing impaired and some are even born deaf. Hearing problems affect more than 50 percent of the Down syndrome patients and they usually get progressively worse as the person ages. Middle ear problems are often the most common reason for hearing loss and they are brought on by excess liquid that is accumulated. Most affected persons also suffer from tooth decay and dental problems, which also contribute to one’s ability to speak properly. Tooth decay is caused by the increased amount of saliva which enables the bacteria to degenerate teeth and gums. In some instances, the person finds daily activities, such as teeth brushing, a demanding task that is not performed properly, which in turn contributes to poor oral health. Regardless of how limited their potential might be compared to normally developing peers, if children with Down syndrome are placed in early intervention programs where physical, occupational, and speech therapy will be provided, they can reach their full potential and have increased sense of independence and self worth.

Big Tongue Issue with Down Syndrome

There are many physical symptoms of Down syndrome which cause numerous problems for the affected individual, and one of them is a larger than usual tongue. Both the lips and the tongue are so bulky that they interfere with the functions such as eating, drinking, and speaking. Low muscle tone is one of the most prominent Down syndrome symptoms and as tongue is a muscle it is usually ineffective unless the child is engaged is exercises that increase the muscle tone and the tongue’s productivity. Activities such as licking the food off a plate makes the muscle stronger and more able to perform essential functions. Balancing a cheerio on the tip of the tongue is also recommended for children who are slightly older and able to attempt the task. Placing sticky foods such as honey at the corner of the child’s lips helps improve the lateral sub group of muscles in the tongue. Using straws to drink dense liquids such as milk shakes or smoothies also makes the tongue stronger.

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