Early Intervention Treatment Options for Down Syndrome in Children

mother holding a child with with down syndrome

Author: Circle of Care

As a parent with a child who has been diagnosed with Down syndrome, you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. The good news is that there are many treatment options available for children with Down Syndrome. Early intervention can have a significant impact on helping your child reach their fullest potential and live an independent life.

What is Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21. It is one of the most common genetic conditions and affects approximately 1 in every 700 babies born. Some of its characteristics may include intellectual disabilities, speech and language delays, physical differences, and social-emotional challenges.

Early Signs of Down Syndrome in Babies and Children

Down syndrome can appear differently from child to child. However, there are common signs of Down syndrome that are often visible in a child’s physical appearance and development. The effects of Down syndrome can cause delays in physical, gross motor, and fine motor skills development. These delays may be noticeable very early on or later down the line as a child develops. Symptoms such as low muscle tone or difficulty with coordination can lead to problems with balance, climbing stairs, and even getting dressed.

Common signs of Down syndrome include:

  • Low muscle tone
  • A flat, round face
  • Small eyes with an upward slant
  • Short stature
  • Poor head control when a baby is picked up
  • Delays in meeting major milestones like rolling over, crawling, and walking
  • Behavioral tendencies such as stubbornness, impulsiveness, and difficulty following directions

Early Intervention Down Syndrome Treatment for Children and Toddlers

Depending on your child’s individual needs and abilities, there are several different forms of early intervention available for those with Down syndrome. Early intervention therapy for down syndrome can involve several different treatment plans for down syndrome, including early intervention physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.

Early intervention programs can improve cognitive development in children with Down syndrome by up to 30%. 
Source: National Down Syndrome Society

Down Syndrome Physical Therapy Interventions

Physical therapy can help children with Down syndrome improve their gross and fine motor skills. Pediatric physical therapy focuses on helping your child to move and develop his or her muscles in order to strengthen them, as well as to increase balance and coordination. Physical therapists may also implement exercises to improve posture and gait as well as exercises to increase strength and flexibility. Additionally, therapists may employ assistive devices such as wheelchairs or walkers if needed.

Down Syndrome Occupational Therapy Interventions

Occupational therapy can help individuals with Down syndrome by helping them to improve functional skills in everyday activities, such as self-care. Pediatric occupational therapy typically utilizes sensory integration techniques, adapted equipment, and adaptive strategies to help people who have difficulty with fine motor skills, attention span, visual perception, or other developmental delays related to Down syndrome.

Down Syndrome Speech Therapy Interventions

Speech therapy can help people with Down syndrome improve their communication skills. A speech-language pathologist (SLP) typically works on developing a person’s receptive and expressive language, articulation, and conversational skills. Pediatric speech therapy for Down syndrome may also help the individual to develop better social interaction skills such as understanding body language and nonverbal cues, as well as increasing their ability to understand what is said by others and express themselves.

When to Begin Treatment for Down Syndrome in Children and Toddlers

Early intervention treatment is typically recommended for children with Down syndrome between the ages of 0 and 3 years. However, depending on their developmental needs, some individuals may require treatment beyond this age range. Early intervention treatment for Down syndrome can also begin shortly after diagnosis. It is recommended that children with Down syndrome receive early intervention services as soon as possible to help them reach their developmental milestones and have the best outcomes.

How Circle of Care Can Help Your Child With Down Syndrome

At Circle of Care, our experienced therapists throughout the state of Texas are here to provide your child with Down syndrome the personalized early intervention treatment they need to reach their goals. Our team provides physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy services for children of all ages and abilities. If you would like more information about our early intervention treatment services for Down syndrome, contact us online today or call (877) 434-4317.



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