Down Syndrome

Updated: Apr 6

DOWN SYNDROME is the most common genetic condition effecting one is every 691 babies. Down Syndrome is a Chromosomal Disorder, a Developmental Disorder of one extra Chromosome. The result of this one extra Chromosome is an impairment of physical and cognitive abilities creating minor to significant differences. This does not mean that these children cannot learn, process, and perform; it is just that the learning process is slower. Most children become competent in most fine and gross motor skills necessary for Activities of Daily Living; it is just that the process may take longer and need more practice to perform. Difficulties a child with Down Syndrome may experience making dressing difficult:


child with down syndrome playing by kozie clothes

  • Hypotonia or Low Muscle Tone: The muscles may feel soft and squishy, and because they have increased resting length it literally takes longer for the muscles to contract.

  • Decreased Strength

  • Poor balance

  • Impulsive behavior and short attention span: Their impulsivity or short attention span may make it hard for the child to take their time to learn to plan out the activity and practice steps, or they may just give up too easily making them unsuccessful.

  • Delayed mental and social development: Developmental delays can occur in all five areas of development or may just happen in one or more of those areas.

  • Cognitive Development: This is the child's ability to learn and solve problems.

  • Social and Emotional Development: This is the child's ability to interact with others, including helping themselves and self-control.

  • Fine Motor Skill Development: This is the child's ability to use small muscles, specifically their hands and fingers.

  • Gross Motor Skill Development: This is the child's ability to use large muscles.

  • Speech and Language Development

  • Eye Problems (many wear glasses)

  • Sterognosis: (the ability to determine the shape and weight of an object by touching or lifting it)

  • Sensory Processing: Getting dressed is a common trouble issue for children with sensory integration disorder. If you're not getting good information from your sense of touch, it can be hard to button a shirt. If you have a poor concept of where your body begins and ends, or where exactly your limbs are, working your way into a shirt or pulling up your pants, understanding front and back, right and left, can be extra challenging. Dressing can be a motor-planning nightmare, calling on a variety of abilities that may not be up to the job.

  • Poor fine motor skills: including difficulty with isolated movement, spatial organization, strength, and tone.

  • Dexterity: Enables us to make small, accurate, and efficient movements with our hands.

  • Bilateral Coordination: Efficient use of both hands during an activity eventually leading to the development of a dominant hand.

  • Translation of in-hand objects: The ability to move an object from the palm of the hand to the finger tips and back to the palm.

  • Rotation of objects: The movement of an object with the finger around one or more of its axis.

  • Laterality: (determining dominant side of the body) Deficits in visual motor control: visual-motor integration problems affect virtually all aspects of producing work since it involves eye-hand coordination.

  • Poor eye-hand coordination: the visual processing of information to guide hand movements.

ENCOURAGING SUCCESS WITH DRESSING DRESSING is one Self Care Skill that may be difficult for a Down's Syndrome Child, taking into consideration the above mentioned difficulties. First consider the level of motor and sensory development and function of the child and determine the aim of the intervention within the clothing. It is generally easier to learn to take off before putting on and, remember, the child needs a stable position to hold the clothing. One example may be sitting with their back against the wall or standing in a corner with their back against the wall. Sitting on a step may make it easier to push a shoe on.

Take into consideration the main environments the child participates in including home, school, and social. Some environments lend to extra time to explain and practice, where other environments do not. Your child's clothing should be able to address these different environments.

Choose clothing that is easy to put on and take off, easy to fasten, and sensory comfortable. Select clothing that aids the child with spatial relations, allows for fastening practice, has elastic waistbands, considers motor difficulties, and enhances independence.

Look for vertical button holes, attachments to zippers, and other means of fastenings such as Velcro. Remember to work within their present level of development. Demonstrate, verbally assist, hand over hand assistance, use picture cues or just give prompts. We want to facilitate fine motor skill development, balance, sensory processing and comfort, enhanced cognitive and motor performance, while most importantly promoting independence. Do expect some participation from your child but do not expect too much if they are not developmentally ready.

Kozie Clothes continues to address the needs of the Down Syndrome child when designing our clothing:

  • Relevant styling

  • Pockets are consistently placed on the right front of the garment to address spatial organization

  • Elastic soft waist bands

  • Extra pocket flaps to allow for button and snap practice not needed to operate the clothing

  • Button holes are vertical opposed to horizontal to make slipping button in easier

  • Zipper pulls are added

  • Sensory Comfortable materials

  • Loose clothing

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