Occupational Therapy Intervention and Down Syndrome

Down syndrome girl smiling

Down Syndrome is a chromosomal condition that affects 1 in approximately 700 births in the United States every year. While this condition can make it challenging for children to perform daily tasks, occupational therapy services can increase these children’s ability to participate in these activities. Some common areas that children with Down Syndrome struggle with are listed below, as well as techniques that occupational therapists can use to address these difficulties.

Low Muscle Tone

Children with Down Syndrome typically have low muscle tone, which makes coordination of gross motor and fine motor tasks difficult. An occupational therapist can assist the child in using their tone most effectively in order to increase their independence in motor movements and daily life activities.

Joint Hyper-Mobility

When children’s joints are hyper-mobile, it makes it difficult for them to use their arms and legs effectively to complete motor tasks. Most notably children with Down Syndrome have hyper-mobility in their hips, feet, and shoulders. An occupational therapist can teach the child techniques to protect their joints from damage.

Reduced Strength

Muscle strength can be improved in order to increase a child with Down Syndrome’s ability to complete daily tasks on their own. An occupational therapist can work with the child to provide specific strengthening activities and exercises to promote strength but also protect the child’s joints at the same time.

Short Arms and Legs

By typically having shorter arms and legs in relation to their torso, children with Down Syndrome may have difficulties with performing fine and gross motor skills as well as self care skills. An occupational therapist would be able to provide adaptive strategies to the child in order to increase independence in these areas.

Through occupational therapy services, children with Down Syndrome can increase their quality of life, and their parents/caregivers can gain understanding of activities to promote further development of these skills at home. BRAINS is able to provide occupational therapy services individually tailored to each individual child to help them reach their maximal potential.

**Danielle Boog is an occupational therapist practicing in pediatric services for 3 years. She enjoys promoting development in infants and supporting their parents by giving them the necessary education to feel confident in promoting these skills. She has three children of her own, and has learned so much about interacting with children from them.