Gene is a basic physical and functional unit of heredity and is made up of DNA. It occupies a fixed position on a chromosomes, which are the sets of genes in the body. They determine how a body forms and functions during pregnancy and after the birth. Hence, determining all the physical, mental and biological traits. Typically, a normal cell has 46 chromosomes. People with Down syndrome are born with extra copy of chromosome 21. This phenomena is called “Trisomy 21”. Though this occurs only 95% of the time. (Walsh, 2018) It is a lifelong condition, having this extra copy causes various range of issues both physically and mentally.
The main cause of trisomy is an abnormal cell division during the development of sperm or egg cell. At conception, a new cell if formed that receives a copy of each chromosome i.e. from a sperm and egg cell. Eventually this cell further grows and divides into many cells to form a fetus and then a human body. However, in a cell where trisomy occurs there forms total 47 chromosomes. Sometimes translocation happens, in which, an extra piece of chromosome 21 gets attached to another chromosome. Most people with Down syndrome has a genotype of 47+2. While, phenotype varies in a great extent. (Walsh, 2018)
Prevalence: Down syndrome is the most common genetic disorder throughout the world. It has been stable in last decade in Canada, averaging 15.8 per 10,000 total births, between 2005 and 2013. It occurs approximately 1 in 750 babies. The rate among stillbirths is 31.2 in 1000. In live birth is 13.5 in 10,000 between years 2005-2013. The figure illustrates Down syndrome rates by outcome in Canada including rates per 1000 stillbirths and 10,000 live births, also 95% confidence interval. (Morris, 2002)
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The Research also says that risk of Down syndrome increases if a mother delivering the baby is above 35 years of age. The highest percentage is 29%. The following figure illustrates proportion of live births and Down syndrome births within each maternal age category in Canada. (Cocchi, 2010)
Symptoms: People with Down syndrome have various physical features that includes:
- Small head and ears.
- Swelling tongue.
- Short neck.
- Inclined eyes (usually upwards).
- Atypically formed ears.
- Poor muscle co-ordination.
Some of the medical implications that people with Down syndrome faces are: heart defects, hearing loss, leukemia, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, sleep disturbances, dislocations, urinary tract infections, skin infections, and respiratory problems. (Karen, 2017).
Children with Down syndrome faces some difficulties in day to day life. Sometimes, both in home and school settings. Some of the Health Concerns that affect the learning of the student with Down syndrome includes: weak auditory memory, concentration issues, limited understanding, hearing problems, and visual problems, speaking problems, gross and fine motor difficulties, and difficulty in generalizations. Students with Down syndrome have heart, ear, nose, throat, and sleep difficulties even. Sleep intolerance can cause anxiety, hyperactivity, tiredness and lethargic.
The accommodations and modifications may be implied to the curriculum of a student with Down syndrome.
1) Weak Memory: Students with Down syndrome often have short term memory difficulties. This leads to a huge loss in their learning process. As they are not able to match the pace with their other fellow peers. But it doesn’t mean it will affect their will to learn. The following points might prove effective to prevent this difficulty:
- A teacher may allow more time to learn.
- More practise of generalizations.
2) Hearing and Vision problems: This is the most common difficulty faced by people with Down syndrome. Around 80% people with Down syndrome faces this problem. The following tips can be useful to overcome this aid:
- A student can be placed In front of the class.
- Visual aids can be very effective. (E.g. write on blackboard).
- By using larger fonts and bold sentences.
- Repeating questions and using clear, concise and loud voice.
- Including electronic gadgets like iPad, pc.
3) Gross and fine motor skills: Many students with Down syndrome faces difficulty in performing these skills, but, following points may enhance these skills:
- Every student should have comfortable working space. Especially for student with Down syndrome, as such to support their stability.
- Provide proper back support for long periods.
- Proper space for their wheelchairs and personal supporting devices.
- Gym class should have some equipment’s which may be proven useful and which maybe easy accessible to students with Down syndrome.
4) Speaking: Students face difficulty in speaking due to low muscle tone and jaw movements. Teachers can do following points to help student with speech difficulties:
- By using simple questions.
- By including them in almost every class discussion.
- Occupational therapist may provide help to the student.
- Sign language may be included in their IEP/ Curriculum.
5) Concentration issues: Students with Down syndrome may have ADHD. Hence, proper attention need to be provided to them. A teacher can do the following steps;
- They can use more colourful and interesting books to keep them engaged in studies/learning.
- They can use their favourite stories or movies to read or play in some spare time
There are some common myths about people with Down syndrome including;
- People with Down syndrome must be educated in segregated classrooms: They have full right to be a part of mainstream classrooms and learn what they wish to.
- They are always happy: They do have feelings like any other human beings. They do get hurt by negative experiences and happy with positive.
- They are full retarded: Which again a false statement. Most people with Down syndrome have their IQ’s fall under moderate rates.
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