1 Major Goal Of Physical Therapy For Children Born Down Syndrome

If you’re a parent of a child born with Down syndrome chances are you’ve been to so many physical therapy (and occupational therapy, and speech therapy!) appointments you feel like you could be a physical therapist yourself!  Just trying to remember when the appointments are can be a job itself, and then there all are those exercises.  (Has anyone else ever left a thearpy appointment asking their self, “Now what did she say I was supposed to do?” 🙂

One Major Goal Of Physical Therapy

It’s easy to fill overwhelmed and stressed out about your child’s development.  But have you ever wondered what the goal of all that hard work is?

perspective is a goal for physical thearpy

A goal for parents is to change their perspective about physical therapy!

I recently came across a great article about physical therapy for our kids that helped me to understand what I should hope for when it comes to Noah’s physical therapy. “The Goals and Opportunity of Physical Therapy for Children with Down Syndrome” is by Patricia Winders.  (Who also wrote a fantastic book on gross motor skills which I mentioned on the resource page.) Her article put things into perspective for me since I really did consider physical therapy as an aid in helping Noah achieve his motor milestones at an advanced pace. Her article says:

“The goal of physical therapy is to minimize the development of the compensatory movement patterns that children born with down syndrome are prone to develop”.

So that’s what they have been doing!!  They could care less when Noah achieves his milestones, they just want to make sure that he is doing them correctly!

What’s The Point Of All This Sitting?

downs syndrome down boy sitting swing

"I especially like sitting in swings!"

It also helped explain a lot of what I am seeing in physical therapy lately with what we like to call the “sitting marathon.”  I’ve mentioned earlier that we are working on Noah sitting up straight and developing his core.  The article says:

“…children with down syndrome typically learn to sit with a posterior pelvic tilt, trunk rounded and the head resting back on the shoulders.”

Imagine a giant C with their head propped on their back.  The article goes on to explain that the physical therapists will provide this support until the child is able to do this on their own. They will work their way down the trunk until they get to the waist and eventually the pelvis, while the child is learning to keep proper alignment and stability.

Hmm, this is all starting to make sense now!  I don’t want Noah sitting the wrong way, I want him sitting the right way…so I’ll continue to be patient. 🙂

A Bonus of Physical Therapy I Never Knew About

The article leaves you with one other benefit you can get out of the experience of physical therapy (or any therapy). He helps you to understand early on how your child learns. By watching your child achieve their milestones THE CORRECT WAY you will figure out what methods work and what doesn’t to help your child in other areas of his/her life.

I’m a very visual learner.  If you show me something, I usually have no problem replicating it.  It’s why I excelled in the clinical stages of my medical training rather than the sit-in-the-classroom part.  From what I am reading, this tends to be common in children with Down syndrome as well.

down syndrome downs playing developmental toys

"Toys are fun..."

Noah is motivated by toys and by people’s faces. This boy will sit up to grab our faces any day of the week. I know that children born with Down syndrome may learn differently than a typical child, but they are fully capable of learning that task or information if you figure out how to teach them.  This is why eventually an individualized learning plan (ILP) will be your best friend, as the school HAS to teach your child the way they will best learn. If you are a little ahead of the game by knowing what works for your child, imagine how much more you will get out of your ILP. Those are posts for a later time though 🙂

The article I referenced in this post contains a list of things Patricia has noticed in her experience with Down syndrome on how they learn. It was great read. Thanks Patricia for all of the helpful information!!

What were some of the surprises you experienced as a result of your child physical, occupational, or speech therapy  What are some of the ways you are learning about how your child learns?

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  1. My son is also a visual learner. He just turned 7 last week and if I think back hard enough I can remember when we did the sitting marathon. It was one of many more to come. My son has always been motivated by praise. Give him a heartfelt round of applause or a high five and he’s good to go.

    • zarina from malaysia says

      my son also is a good learner. he can follow what he saw so i always make sure what is the good thing for him.Now he is 2 years old but his mind like other normal child,but just his body only slow,and now he try to be himself,he like computer,tv and dancing when he hear a song.every week i send him for teraphy what ever teraphy.

      • Zarina,

        Very nice to meet you! I think you are the first person I’ve met (online, or in real life) from Malaysia. What an honor! 🙂

        If you don’t mind me asking, how did you find out about our website? We are so glad you did.

        What is your little boy’s name? He sounds like an AWESOME son. We also have a Facebook page with lots of really nice parents on there. Please feel free to post a picture of your son if you have one. We would love to see him! —–> http://facebook.com/noahsdadcom

        • zarina from malaysia says

          my son name is muhammad lutfil hadi bin roslan. when he was born i promise with my self that i want him to be a good boy like another normal boy.I know him as a syndrome down went I Ppregnat 7 month. when the doc said my son got problem I fill very sad but what ever he was he still my son and the god give me something a special which not all person can have it. I just send u his photo did u received or still not? if not i send u another one

    • Tammy, I totally agree! In fact, I wrote about that very thing here —> http://noahsdad.com/wins/

      I’d love to hear your feedback on it.

  2. Interesting find on the Physical Therapy – totally makes sense. And makes the appointments I’ve had where we don;t actually seem to do much more understandable!

    On visual learning if anyone hasn’t fund http://www.seeandlearn.org/en/gb/ this page yet, it works on the visual learning concept our kids have

    • Karin,

      Thanks so much for the comment, and for positing that link. We’ll be sure to check it out!

      I like what my wife said about chaining our perspective, which in turns changes what we think about “goals.”

      To be honest, our life can sometimes be so fast paced one my “goals” is just to make it to the appointment on time!

      By the way, do you have a Gravatar? —-> http://en.gravatar.com/

    • Karin,

      Thanks ofr your comment. And for posting the link. I”ll be sure to check it out!

      By the way, be sure to “like” us here so we can stay connected! —-> http://facebook.com/noahsdadcom

      Feel free to post a picture of your kid-o on that page. We’d love to see him!

    • I love that website! Thanks for sharing. I have a whole new perspective going to therapy this week than I did last week. I feel more motivated 🙂 No bad habits for Noah.

  3. Take 3- comment without blog address.

    • @Leah,

      I’m not sure what happened. No comment came through (or your blog address.)

      If you are receiving an error please click on the contact button at the top of the page and let us know what’s going on.


  4. zarina from malaysia says

    hi did u received a photo of my son.his name is mohammad lutfil hadi bin roslan.i just cl him lutfil.

  5. I absolutely love Noah’s page, I can honestly say I’ve learned so much since I found this site. I want to thank the both of you so much.. And now I understand why we have been working so hard with sitting for my 9 month old boy!

    • Thank you so much for the kind words, and taking the time to leave them; they are VERY much appreciated. We’re glad you found our site. What is your little boy’s name? 🙂

      By the way, how did you find our site? (I’m always curious to learn how people found our site.)

      • No problem at all 🙂 His name is Kamrin ill try posting a pic to Noah’s Fb page.. & I actually found you guys on Fb! I would stay up all hrs of the night looking for information for parents with babies with Ds & I came across your page while searching downs syndrome on Facebook!

  6. Paula Mathers says

    Love your postings of Noah. I have a son with Down Syndrome who is 16 and doing wonderful. I too believe in the visual learning. My son is mainstreamed in public schools and is in Algebra this year maintaining an A average. His math is to the point where I can’t even help him. We believed the sky is the limit with him and our other two children. We try to make sure he has no barriers and if we come upon one we try to knock it down. We feel the stars aligned for our son and what a blessing he is for our entire family. Merry Christmas and a very Blessed New year for your family.

    • @Paula,

      Thanks you so much for leaving your comment! I loved hearing about your son and how well he is doing! You should like a wonderful mommy! Where are you guys from?

      • Paula Mathers says

        We live in Plano, Texas. PISD has been wonderful to us, it has been a partnership since day one. We have also been involved in the Dallas Down Syndrome Guild and Special Olympics. He has a wonderful social network of friends. Our goal is for him to go to college and become a contributing member of society. I believe he is on his way to accomplish these things. Love all of the pictures of Noah:)

        • @Paula,

          Very cool! You are right down the street from us! My wife and I are on the new parent committee for the Down Syndrome Guild of Dallas! So cool that you guys are in Plano, at one time we were research the Frisco school district. We’ve heard lots of great things about the area, and it makes me happy to hear how pleased you are with PISD. I was also excited to hear about your son’s progress in Math. In fact I was telling my wife about your comment this morning.

          You guys sound a lot like us. 🙂 By the what speech therapists have you used? Does PISD offer them through the school system? We have gotten to know Lynn Campbell a little bit, and are planning on taking Noah to visit with her next year. We met her once at one of the guild meetings and we really like her. She’s in Plano I believe, not sure if you’ve gotten a chance to met her.

  7. Wow,
    Just finding you guys now because of the Target ad and wishing you had been doing this 6 years ago when I was in my own personal hell dealing with my daughter’s diagnosis. She doesn’t have Down Syndrome but a rare chromosomal disorder that causes global developmental delays without mental retardation (high IQ) but with high-functioning Autism thrown in for good measure. There were only 30 reported cases of her disorder in the US when she was born so it doesn’t even have a name or a nice tidy symptom sheet to look off of, we have to fly blind. When people ask what she has it’s easiest to say “It’s kind of like Down Syndrome” so that they can get the total picture. So glad you guys are taking the time to offer this help to others. I really could have used all of this helpful advice way back then! And even now I enjoyed reading the “why’s” of physical therapy. 6 years of it and I had never come to that conclusion. I was always just waiting for her to reach her next goal. Thank you for the support you’re giving to others even while being in the midst of crazy therapy schedules.

  8. It is hard to explain to my friends how I am so overwhelmed sometimes with therapy appointments and doctor appointments. A little over a year ago in college I was going to school full time, working part time, maintaining a marriage, raising a 9 mo old (Jayden), writing a thesis, building a show for the planetarium I worked at based on that thesis, was pregnant with Levi and finished the semester with straight A’s. And yet somehow, this new life I find myself in can often be more mentally and physically draining than that!

    BUT it is AMAZING to watch Levi respond to his therapy and I quite literally thank God everyday for our O.T. She has given us gift after gift in being able to open our eyes to Levi’s point of view and encourage him to grow in his own way.

    I have a friend who has a daughter with D.S. who is now in her 30’s. She didn’t have any of the support we get now. She actually took her daughter to Germany for treatment because no one here really knew how to treat a patient with D.S. I think I would definitely rather feel stretched thin by all the resources available to help Levi than to feel all alone in this.

    So in the end, my exhaustion really is just a huge blessing isn’t it? I literally just realized this as I was typing! lol!!

  9. Great ideas! Love the videos! I’m a DPT who does home health Peds! The biggest challenge I encounter is patents who aren’t compliant with the established home exercise program, every little bit of therapy done in our absence is just as important!!

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