• Children are born with Down’s Syndrome approximately one in 700 births.
• It is a misconception to think that children with Down’s Syndrome are born to women over 35 years.
• Two-thirds of all children with Down’s Syndrome are born to mothers under 35 years with 20 per cent of all children with Down’s Syndrome born to mothers who are under 25 years.
• Children with Down’s Syndrome are all different. Ignore the comments and generalisations that these children are placid and love music.
• Children and adults with Down’s Syndrome vary enormously in appearance, personality and ability because each child is a unique individual.
• All children are different even if they have the same diagnosis, eg Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Attention Deficit Disorder, Down’s Syndrome or Developmental Delay. The greatest obstacles that children and adults with disabilities face are old attitudes and perceptions. They need friendships, inclusion into all community activities and opportunities for success and living real lives as part of our community.
• Autism occurs in one or two of every 1000 births. Some research suggests a physical problem affecting those parts of the brain that process language and information coming from the senses. The causes may be some imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain, and/or genetic factors. It was always thought years ago that the family’s way of parenting caused Autism. We now know that factors in the psychological environment of the child do not cause Autism.
•Four of every five people with Autism are male.
Because children with special needs are now attending preschool and other children’s services in their area the community are more aware and accepting in their attitude. This is a major change, as years ago children with disabilities did not go to preschool or did not have the opportunity to attend their school where they lived. In addition, other children grow up with more understanding and less fear of people that are different.
Early Intervention Services are now well established. Their aims are to:
• support families to achieve their desired goals for their child;
• assist each child to reach their full potential of their skills through movement, language, learning and play;
• support each child to be included with their peers in local community activities and thereby breakdown the barriers for families with children with special needs;
• encourage the community to value the inclusion of children with special needs and their families.