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Some things to consider if you have Down syndrome or a loved one with Down syndrome

Press Contacts:
Rejena Carmichaelrcarmichael@globaldownsyndrome.org | C: (240) 603-5494
Anca Callacall@globaldownsyndrome.org | C: (720) 320-3832

DENVER, March 12, 2020 – Global and our affiliates have received numerous inquiries about whether or not people with Down syndrome are more at risk than typical people when it comes to exposure to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Many inquiries are related to health risks and many are also related to spring break travel on planes. With coronavirus disease (COVID-19) being categorized as an official pandemic by the World Health Organization, and after discussing with our affiliates, at this moment in time we are comfortable providing the following information.


GLOBAL UPDATE ON THE CORONAVIRUS DISEASE (COVID-19)


1. Are all people with Down syndrome “High Risk”?

While there is no evidence about how people with Down syndrome are affected by coronavirus disease (COVID-19) versus the typical population, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) have categorized certain groups of people as “high risk” in terms of how coronavirus disease (COVID-19) can negatively affect their health:

    a. Older adults
    b. People who have serious chronic medical conditions like: Heart disease, Diabetes, Obesity, Lung disease, and/or Respiratory Difficulties


2. Some Precautions to Consider from the NIH & CDC:

We do know that people with Down syndrome are more likely than typical people to have such chronic medical conditions listed above, and as such, following the NIH and CDC precautions should be considered. You can read about those precautions on the NIH and CDC government websites. For individuals considered “high risk” the websites both recommend “Avoid all non-essential travel including plane trips, and especially avoid embarking on cruise ships” amongst many other recommendations.


3. Extra Precautions to Consider Based on Research

There is research from the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics that points to people with Down syndrome being more likely to develop complications due to respiratory viral infections including H1N1 and RSV, and increased rates of hospitalization. Given this research, if you as an individual with Down syndrome, your child with Down syndrome, or your dependent adult with Down syndrome has a respiratory infection, is just recovering from a respiratory infection, has chronic respiratory issues or pulmonary viral infections, you may want to consider taking the same precautions that would apply to someone who is “high risk.”


Some Basic But Important CDC and NIH recommendations to Consider

1. Avoid close contact and stay home when sick – Read about steps to preventing the illness via the CDC website. Please take note:

    Stay home when you are feeling sick (e.g. fever, cough, itchy throat, chills, etc.).
    Notify a healthcare provider if you are experiencing symptoms.
    Put in extra measures to put more physical distance between yourself and others.

2. Practice good hygiene. Read about the importance of handwashing via the CDC website. Below are some highlights:

    Wash your hands with soap and water regularly for 20 seconds.
    Practice cough and sneezing etiquette, always cover your mouth and nose when sneezing, coughing with a tissue or into the crook of your elbow.
    Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

About Global Down Syndrome Foundation

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation (Global) is the largest non-profit in the U.S. working to save lives and dramatically improve health outcomes for people with Down syndrome. Global has donated more than $32 million to establish the first Down syndrome research institute supporting over 400 scientists and over 2,000 patients with Down syndrome from 28 states and 10 countries. Working closely with Congress and the National Institutes of Health, Global is the lead advocacy organization in the U.S. for Down syndrome research and care. Global has a membership of over 100 Down syndrome organizations worldwide, and is part of a network of Affiliates – the Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, the Sie Center for Down Syndrome, and the University of Colorado Alzheimer’s and Cognition Center – all on the Anschutz Medical Campus.

Global’s widely-circulated medical publications include Global Medical Care Guidelines for Adults with Down Syndrome, Prenatal Testing and Information about Down Syndrome, and the award-winning magazine Down Syndrome WorldTM. Global also organizes the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show, the largest Down syndrome fundraiser in the world. Visit globaldownsyndrome.org and follow us on social media (facebook & twitter:@GDSFoundation)(instagram:@globaldownsyndrome).

Global grants fund a total of 80 jobs for people with Down syndrome in the US and Peru

At DSAIA Leadership Conference; Keynote speaker Zack Gottsagen and Global President & CEO Michelle Sie Whitten with awardees (L-R): Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis, Down Syndrome of Louisville, Down Syndrome Association of Connecticut, Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan, Down Syndrome Association of Delaware (Not Pictured: Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin, Down Syndrome Network Arizona, Sociedad Peruana de Sindrome Down)

Press Contacts:
Rejena Carmichaelrcarmichael@globaldownsyndrome.org | C: (240) 603-5494
Anca Callacall@globaldownsyndrome.org | C: (720) 320-3832

Orlando, FL and DENVER, CO February 28, 2020 – Today, Global Down Syndrome Foundation (Global) announced eight new Global Self-Advocate Employment Initiative Grant winners at the national Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action (DSAIA) Annual Leadership Conference.

“We started this grant program in 2016 after attending a DSAIA conference and realized that many Down syndrome organizations cannot afford to employ people with the condition despite advocating for other companies to do so,” said Michelle Sie Whitten, President and CEO of Global. “To address that, we worked with our members on this grant program and we are proud to have supported 80 self-advocates jobs from 20 states and one in Peru! I’m so proud of our team and our members for making this all a reality in such a short time.”

The 2020 winners are: Down Syndrome Association of Connecticut, Down Syndrome Association of Delaware, Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis, Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan, Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin, Down Syndrome Network (AZ), Down Syndrome of Louisville, and Sociedad Peruana de Sindrome Down (Peru). This year’s Global Self-Advocate Employment Initiative Grants will underwrite self-advocate volunteers transitioning to paid contractors or staff, expansion of hours for self-advocate staff, work-place training, and public speaking training.

Past winners appreciate that Global’s grants can be multi-year, and that many grants have led to leveraged funding.

“Our organization is dedicated to helping our adults with Down syndrome develop vocational and professional skills. We have been fortunate to earn more than one of Global’s transformative employment grants, allowing us to train, prepare, and hire self-advocates for employment especially in our hospital clinic,” says Lauren Camp Gates, Executive Director of Down Syndrome Association of Delaware.

Erin Suelmann, Executive Director of Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis agrees, “Global has helped us expand our ‘Ready to Work Employment Initiative’ programs. In 2018, Global’s grant empowered us to hire an Employment Assistant Ambassador and now we have on-going funding for that position. This year we are so grateful for another grant to grow our staff and hire a Peer Trainer for Social Enterprise.”

2020 grant winners received their award certificates from Whitten and DSAIA conference keynote speaker, Zack Gottsagen. Gottsagen, who starred in the award-winning hit indie film, The Peanut Butter Falcon, is an example of a hardworking individual with Down syndrome excelling in his career. Whitten is an executive producer of The Peanut Butter Falcon and led Global Members in marketing initiatives to ensure the film’s distribution success.

“I wanted to act from the time I was three,” said Gottsagen. “My mom listened to me so I took acting lessons for years. Then two acting coaches wrote a film for me to star in and I won awards for my acting at SXSW and Palm Springs Film Festivals. I showed up, worked hard, got this big break, and presented at the Oscars. It is important that parents and organizations have high expectations and provide training to children and adults with Down syndrome.”

Global membership benefits include supporting life-saving and transformative initiatives, Global’s award-winning magazine Down Syndrome WorldTM, Down syndrome expert webinars, and two first-in-kind grant programs – Global Membership Educational Grants and Global Membership Self-Advocate Employment Initiative Grants. To become a Global Down Syndrome Foundation member or to learn more about member benefits, visit: https://www.globaldownsyndrome.org/become-a-member/.

About Global Down Syndrome Foundation

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation (Global) is the largest non-profit in the U.S. working to save lives and dramatically improve health outcomes for people with Down syndrome. Global has donated more than $32 million to establish the first Down syndrome research institute supporting over 400 scientists and over 2,000 patients with Down syndrome from 28 states and 10 countries. Working closely with Congress and the National Institutes of Health, Global is the lead advocacy organization in the U.S. for Down syndrome research and care. Global has a membership of over 100 Down syndrome organizations worldwide, and is part of a network of Affiliates – the Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, the Sie Center for Down Syndrome, and the University of Colorado Alzheimer’s and Cognition Center – all on the Anschutz Medical Campus.

Global’s widely-circulated medical publications include Global Medical Care Guidelines for Adults with Down Syndrome, Prenatal Testing and Information about Down Syndrome, and the award-winning magazine Down Syndrome WorldTM. Global also organizes the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show, the largest Down syndrome fundraiser in the world. Visit globaldownsyndrome.org and follow us on social media (facebook & twitter:@GDSFoundation)(instagram:@globaldownsyndrome).

WDSD Redirect

February 5th, 2020 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

ETC

Finding Her Voice

January 24th, 2020 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

From Down Syndrome WorldTM 2019 Issue 4 of 4

Multi-Talented Performer Meg Ohsada Has Learned That, When It Comes To Communication, Words Aren’t Always Necessary.


This article was published in the award-winning Down Syndrome World™ magazine. Become a member to read all the articles and get future issues delivered to your door!

MEG OHSADA, a Canada native who happens to have Down syndrome, has become an international superstar known for her competitive figure skating and dancing with four Special Olympic medals and counting. She is also known for her extraordinary, widely-collected artwork. At just 25-years-old, Meg also has her artwork displayed and purchased at prestigious galleries around the world. And believe it or not, that’s not all she does! She recently took up rhythmic gymnastics and modeling, too.

Born to Japanese parents who immigrated to Canada, Meg is one of three girls. Although Meg is nonverbal, she communicates her powerful and inspirational messages through her passion for sports, fashion, advocacy, and art.

Her accomplishments serve as an inspiration to the Down syndrome community and she recently began modeling to continue her advocacy work for people who are differently-abled.

“Meg is the family’s backbone,” says her mother, Noriko Ohsada. “Her gentle presence has given us love, strength, inspiration, and hope for the future.

A DEDICATED FAMILY

Noriko, who immigrated to Toronto, Canada, from Japan with her husband, Kaoru Ohsada, did not know what Down syndrome was until Meg was born in 1993. In fact, Noriko recalls, she had to learn the word “chromosome” in English when a doctor told her that additional testing was necessary.

Noriko remembers being very scared when she researched the condition. She read that Meg would not live long and would need to be institutionalized. Thankfully, the medically inaccurate information did not deter her and Kaoru’s belief in Meg’s abilities.

From the time Meg was born, her parents noticed she was a happy baby and an energetic, passionate child. Shortly after Meg was born, Noriko and Kaoru had two more daughters: Sari, now 23, and Juli, now 22.

Meg always had difficulties with verbal communication and continued to struggle to talk after undergoing speech therapy.

In 1997, searching for a fresh start and better access to medical care, the family moved from Toronto to Canmore, a small town in Alberta, Canada at the edge of the Canadian Rockies. That’s where Meg’s remarkable artistic abilities began to take shape.

“As my children are close in their age, I always introduced the same activities to all of them,” Noriko says. “Figure skating was the perfect activity for the girls to be athletic and beautiful at the same time. I truly enjoyed watching them.”

“We noticed Meg could remember movements with music very quickly,” Noriko says. “That’s when we realized that performing arts was a way of self-expression.”

LOUDER THAN WORDS

Meg took to figure skating like a natural, impressing her family and her instructors by skating through intricate choreography, remembering every step. At age 8, she joined a local figure skating club and eventually began attending a weekly Special Olympics figure skating program in Calgary, about an hour from Canmore. Meg gets on the ice four to six days a week, for an hour or so a day. Plus, she does yoga, gymnastics, and other physical activities to stay in shape.

She has excelled as a figure skating competitor, earning two gold medals at the 2019 Special Olympics Alberta Winter Games and two silver medals at the 2013 Special Olympics World Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. In 2015, she competed in the Canada Games, which features athletes of all abilities. She continues to inspire other skaters with and without Down syndrome at her home rink in Canmore.

Meg began her dance career at age 14 and attends four dance classes per week. She is also a rhythmic gymnast, a sport she took up at age 18.

She competed in dance in both the 2015 and 2017 Special Olympics World Games, placing fourth at the 2017 Winter Games in Austria. In 2017, she also performed a ballet solo with Ignite Dance at Banff Centre in Banff, Canada, near her hometown of Canmore.

A MULT-TALENTED ARTIST

Movement isn’t Meg’s only form of expression. At age 21, Meg began a career as an artist, taking classes at the Indefinite Arts Centre in Calgary.

Her artwork has appeared in galleries in Hong Kong, Seoul, and South Korea, and she was the featured artist at a local gallery, artsPlace, in Canmore.

Meg’s favorite piece is an abstract self-portrait of herself dancing.

“She expresses herself through art, and she loves public exhibition opportunities where she can get that recognition from other people,” Noriko says.

Last year, Meg took up modeling as a way to showcase the beauty and talent of people who are differently-abled. “I believe Sari and Juli learned many wonderful lessons from Meg, including her enthusiasm, optimism, and compassion toward others,” Noriko states.

Meg encourages everyone to work hard and find their own voice. Through her multi-faceted art forms, she shares an important message: “Do what you love, and great things can happen.”


Like this article? Join Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s Membership program today to receive 4 issues of the quarterly award-winning publication, plus access to 4 seasonal educational Webinar Series, and eligibility to apply for Global’s Employment and Educational Grants.
Register today at downsyndromeworld.org!

Changing the World One Stage at a Time

January 24th, 2020 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

From Down Syndrome WorldTM 2019 Issue 4 of 4

When 16-Year-Old Courtney Gaines Has Her Eyes on the Prize, There’s No Stopping Her. Her Latest Endeavor? Rocking the Runway at Global’s Fashion Show with Model & Actress Mikaela Hoover


This article was published in the award-winning Down Syndrome World™ magazine. Become a member to read all the articles and get future issues delivered to your door!

An actress, singer, dancer, and model, 16-year-old Courtney Gaines is no stranger to the spotlight. She is an active member of her community, an Ambassador for a women’s non-profit, and most recently, an entrepreneur. She is determined to show the world that she can do whatever she sets her mind to. What better next stop than to model at the largest fundraiser for Down syndrome in the world?

“The more people see her, the more people love her,” says Courtney’s mother, DeAnna Gaines. Courtney is engaged with many local groups Oklahoma including the Greater Love Missionary Baptist Church, Shining Starz Special Needs Cheer Squad, Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma, and the Air Force JROTC. “Seeing how Courtney’s energy radiates onto everyone around her, we looked for other opportunities for her to shine.”

When DeAnna and Courtney found the Global Down Syndrome Foundation (Global) online they were impressed by the organization’s government work and intrigued by Global’s fashion show. Courtney’s passion for performance and advocacy for inclusion seemed to make her the perfect fit.

“I love to help others and listen to them,” Courtney says. “I want to do good things for others in everything I do.” She is an Ambassador for GirlTrek, the largest national public health non-profit supporting African-American women and girls in the U.S., with a special strategy to connect with women with special needs. Truly a jack of all trades, Courtney also recently started plans for her own business, an online clothing store called CloZet 21c which would raise funds for non-profits.

Courtney’s vibrant personality, loving nature, and happy smile were evident in her audition and she became the first person in Oklahoma to be selected to model in Global’s marquee annual fundraiser, the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show. Courtney rocked the runway with Mikaela Hoover, a model, actress, and Instagram influencer who is beautiful inside and out.

Mikaela learned about Global when working on a film in Colombia with her colleague, John C. McGinley, who is a Global board member and international spokesperson. Growing up, Mikaela was very close with her cousin Bobby, who had Down syndrome, and was eager to get more involved in philanthropic work. McGinley told her about Global’s work and Mikaela reached out right away to get involved.

SHINING STARS

Courtney was thrilled to work with a fellow model and actress. “It was so much fun modeling with her! We took selfies and photos backstage too,” Courtney recalls. “She is a great model, she’s so pretty, cool, and very nice.”

As natural performers, Mikaela and Courtney have a lot in common. Mikaela began dancing at the age of 2, and by the time she started school, she was starring in her school’s plays. Mikaela started her acting career in 2006 and is best known for her roles in superhero films including the 2014 box office hit Guardians of the Galaxy and the 2010 superhero dark comedy Super starring Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon, and Nathan Fillion. Courtney loves to bring her talents of singing, dancing, and acting to the stage. She was recently in the stage production of Mary Poppins Jr. with Kaleidoscope.

“Courtney was so excited to be on that runway. She knew exactly what she wanted to do and the poses she wanted to strike, and no one was going to stop her,” says Mikaela, who was Courtney’s celebrity escort. “Courtney has so much ambition and carries herself with such grace and independence.”

Both first-timers at Global’s Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show, Courtney and Mikaela were soaking in every moment. “All of the models had such beautiful energy around them, each one was beaming and shining so bright. It was such an honor to be back there with them,” Mikaela says.

Courtney’s favorite part of the night was blowing her mom a kiss when she was at the top of the stage. “Nothing beats seeing my Courtney up there on stage, dressed to the nines, in the company of Mikaela
and of course our heroes like Jamie Foxx and Quincy Jones,” says DeAnna.

Global’s Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show raises critical awareness and funds for Down syndrome. This year’s event raised an incredible $2.5 million for Down syndrome research and medical care.

“Global is changing that the narrative surrounding Down syndrome through advocacy and education,” says Mikaela. “Their beauty simply shines from within, and that is definitely something that we need to see more of, not just in the media, but in our world today.”

“All of the models had such beautiful energy around them,” said Mikaela Hoover. “That is definitely something we need to see more of.”


Like this article? Join Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s Membership program today to receive 4 issues of the quarterly award-winning publication, plus access to 4 seasonal educational Webinar Series, and eligibility to apply for Global’s Employment and Educational Grants.
Register today at downsyndromeworld.org!

Funding Increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Down Syndrome Research Lauded by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Photo by Marleen Van den Neste

Press Contacts:
Rejena Carmichaelrcarmichael@globaldownsyndrome.org | C: (240) 603-5494
Anca Callacall@globaldownsyndrome.org | C: (720) 320-3832

December 22, 2019, Denver, CO– On Friday, President Trump signed a $1.4 trillion spending package that will fund the government until September 2020 and averted a government shutdown. Earlier in the week, the package passed the House and Senate with victories and compromises on both sides of the aisle.

“Finally, we have secured the funds and resources for our military — our national security,” said Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee who also heads the appropriations subcommittee on defense. “This package includes a significant increase in defense funding and the largest pay raise in a decade for our men and women in uniform.”

Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee Nita Lowey was also pleased with the results, “I am particularly proud that House Democrats prevailed in securing historic investments For the People, including record funding levels for Head Start and lifesaving medical research at NIH, and in funding priorities vital to our shared security, like gun violence prevention research and election security grants to states.”

Included in the spending package was legislation providing a 7% increase or $2.6 billion more funding to the NIH for an annualized budget of $41.7 billion. Legislation also highlights a “minimum” of $60 million for Down syndrome research in FY2020 through NIH’s Investigation of Co-occurring Conditions Across the Lifespan to Understand Down Syndrome (INCLUDE) trans-NIH project. This would bring total Down syndrome research funding up to $98 million for the year.

Michelle Sie Whitten, President & CEO of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, issued the following statement:

“Global thanks the Administration, our champions in Congress, and leadership at NIH who made Down syndrome research and medical care a priority resulting in the NIH INCLUDE project. It is important to note that this result reflects a decade of hard work and two decades of inequity in funding for our Down syndrome community.

The key turning point was the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Down syndrome research in October 2017. At the hearing, testimony from Global Ambassador, Frank Stephens, received a standing ovation, 100% bipartisan support, and over 150 million views on C-Span and other outlets.

This first ever hearing of its kind and testimonies were made possible by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, and Ranking Member Tom Cole with further support from Senators Roy Blunt, Patty Murray, and so many others from both sides of the aisle.

The FY2020 budget for NIH and Down syndrome research signals a clear message that the longevity and improved health outcomes of people with Down syndrome is important, and that their unique disease experience can also benefit others without Down syndrome. Global is proud and incredibly grateful to have worked with the Administration, NIH, and Congress to secure the funding for this research.”

The INCLUDE project focuses on diseases and conditions like Alzheimer’s, blood cancers, and autoimmune disorders that have a higher prevalence among individuals with an extra copy of chromosome 21 as well as conditions like solid tumor cancers that are rare among individuals with Down syndrome. The INCLUDE Steering Committee is chaired by Dr. Lawrence Tabak, NIH Principal Deputy Director in partnership with Dr. Diana Bianchi, Director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and Dr. Gary Gibbons, Director, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) as co-chairs.

To learn more about the NIH INCLUDE project, visit https://www.nih.gov/include-project/include-project-research-plan#leadership

To learn more about the Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, visit https://medschool.cuanschutz.edu/linda-crnic-institute

To learn more about the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, visit www.globaldownsyndrome.org

About Global Down Syndrome Foundation

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is at the forefront of Research, Medical Care, Education, and Advocacy dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome. Global supports the research of hundreds of scientists around the world through their advocates, partners and affiliates, including the Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, the Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center, the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome, and a new pilot Adult Clinic. Global invites its supporters to celebrate over a decade of milestones in helping people with Down syndrome at their Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show. To learn more, please visit www.globaldownsyndrome.org and www.bebeautifulbeyourself.org.

Global Webinar Series – Winter 2019 Recap

December 16th, 2019 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

WINTER 2019

CPAP, Hearing Aids, & Glasses, Oh My! How to Help my Child & Adult Wear their Medical Equipment


What You Need to Know


Overview & Speakers:

This webinar will explain the frequency of diagnoses and importance of adherence to help your child and/or adult wear their medical equipment. Key takeaways include:

Common types of challenging behaviors that children and adults with Down syndrome may have when working to wear medical equipment

A step-by-step plan for increasing use of medical equipment

Motivators for avoiding wearing medical equipment and how to manage these behaviors

Lina Patel, PsyD

Lina Patel, PsyD joined the Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado as Director of Psychology in November of 2012. She has extensive experience in treatment planning, parent support, diagnostic evaluation, and intervention. As she believes that behavioral challenges arise for many different reasons, she prides herself in coordination of care with community providers, educational supports, medical team members, and caregivers. Additionally, she conducts clinical research to better understand how neurodevelopment impacts behaviors.

Overview: Click to Listen


Powerpoint Presentation: Click to Download


Additional Handout: Click to Download


Questions & Answers:

Gail, a member of the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware:

1. How do you get your child with DS and Autism to wear glasses for more than 4 seconds?

This is a difficult question, as sensory issues are particularly challenging for children who are dually diagnosed. Is there a time of day that your child is particularly calm? Maybe when eating or in the bathtub? Without knowing specifically what your child’s level of understanding is, I would also consider using a visual timer (try the Countdown timer) to teach your child that the glasses will come of in 4 seconds to start, then maybe 7 seconds, and then increase from there. Since the visual timer looks the same, even when the time is increased, perhaps that may help your child learn how long before practice is done.

2. How do you get your child to not pull out their g-tube, pull out their hearing aids, and throw their glasses when they have severe sensory issues?

I believe that children with sensory issues get so overwhelmed and focused on the distress they are experiencing that they try to escape from the situation that is distressing. The best advice I can give is to start with desensitization to one of the pieces of equipment that you are referring to. It makes most sense that you start with the g-tube. You may need to do a combination of denying access to your child’s g-tube and at the same time keeping your child’s hands busy at all times. I’m not sure how old your child is, but some families have used a wrap over the g-tube site or placed their child in something like a onsie or a leotard to reduce access.

3. Can you give me tips on how to operate as a more normal family in a public setting while tending to all these medical needs?

I can imagine the distress that your family must experience with a very medically complex child. I feel like your question may require further discussion about what specifically feels the most distressing. Then, I would work on that part first. Is your child a picky eater? Is it difficult to go out to restaurants together? Is it more related to something else? Please reach out to discuss further.

Lexy, a parent from Verona, WI:

1. CPAP mask! He can take it off himself in the night. And he has nothing that is a high enough motivator. Help!

The first thing that I would think about is whether he is taking the mask off intentionally or without awareness. If it is intentionally, there are two options. First, some parents will sleep with their child at first to replace the mask each time it is taken off. This is obviously stressful for the family and you would then need to work on fading yourself out of his bedroom again once your child learns that taking the mask off is not an option. If you think that your child is taking it off without realizing it (meaning in his sleep), then I would work with your CPAP team to see if your child needs a different mask, if you can use a sweatshirt to fish the tubing through to reduce the chance that it moves around and then your child takes it off.

2. Any tips for helping him wear a watch?

If your child has sensory issues around wearing a watch, I would start with having your child wear the watch during an activity where he is most distracted. The distraction can help reduce the focus on the feeling, resulting in him getting used to it. You can also use a visual timer to help him know just how long he has to wear it before he gets to take it off. Gradually increasing the time on the visual timer will help him get used to the feeling to the point where he no longer feels the need to take it off or isn’t bothered by it. You can use duct tape to secure the band too so that he can’t take it off for the short time that you are having him practice wearing it.

Christina, a parent in Kearney, NE:

1. My son chews on his glasses and has broken 2 pairs. What do I do?

I would consider speaking to an OT that specializes in sensory issues. They may be able to suggest other ways for your child to get oral input so that glasses aren’t used to get that input. Chewelry can be a great tool to consider using. Remember, your child won’t just start using the chewelry because they have it around their neck to chew on. You will have to teach them to replace the glasses with the chewelry. You would need to sit next to him during times that he is more likely to chew on his glasses. When he reaches for his glasses, you will need to redirect his hands to the chewelry.

2. My son also hides his glasses, we’ve lost 3 pairs. What should we do?

Kids can be so creative in how they “get rid of” glasses. I would review what are the highest risk times that he hides them (When in the car? When transitioning from one place to another? When playing alone in a room?). During those times, start out with full level supervision. Teach your child through routine that they can place their glasses in a case or give them to you if they need a break. That way, even if they “get rid of them” or don’t want to wear them for the time being, they can have control over asking for a break, rather than just getting rid of them.

Jenny, a self-advocate in Boise, ID:

1. If you fall asleep each night with your CPAP mask on, how can you increase the length of time you use it? The fit and pressure are adjusted so that’s not the problem. We’ve been using the mask nightly for 2 years but can’t get usage beyond a couple of hours.

I hate to suggest this, especially without knowing how old your child is, but many of our families will sleep in the room with their child so that they can replace the mask. The more practice your child has at night wearing it, the less likely they will take it off because they are used to the feel. I would suggest making sure that you are not laying in the bed, but maybe next to.

Sandra, a parent in Mission Viejo, CA:

1. My son has a BAHA that attaches magnetically behind his ear. He has so much anxiety when he wears it—but he can’t explain why. What insights do you have on if it’s a sensory feeling of the bone conduction or if it’s because he’s hearing more than he normally does.

Without being able to ask more questions about what behaviors your child exhibits when the BAHA is one, I would guess that it is probably because of the new sounds heard. To manage anxiety, be clear about how long your child has to wear the BAHA during the practice session. Then, when you see that your child looks startled or upset, label what sound your child may have heard. For example, you might say “Oh, it was loud when I closed the door, huh?” Remain calm as you label what you think your child heard.

Kristen, a parent in Laramie, WY:

1. How to get a cpap mask on a toddler without head thrashing

Have you tried modeling putting the CPAP on a doll or on yourself. Whether you put it on yourself or a doll, sing a song your child is familiar with. When the song is done, take off the mask. Then say “Your turn”. Your child knowing that practice is only for a certain amount of time can help reduce head thrashing.

2. Reward system ideas for young toddlers (almost 2)

Toddlers are at an age where they love social engagement. Social engagement like singing songs or playing with toys together is a great reward. Have your child put the equipment on during practice and then engage in play or singing.

3. Best ways to introduce glasses to toddlers

I typically introduce glasses to toddlers in setting where I would have more control and where it is less stressful, like mealtimes for some kids or during bathtime. They are distracted and you can simply remind them to put glasses back on in a more controlled manner. If your child does take them off during that time, without a big reaction, you would simply replace the glasses and then continue to play in the bathtub or continue to interact while feeding.

Anna, a parent in Arvada, CO:

1. How do we get our son to keep hearing aids on at school and other places that we can’t directly supervise him?

This would require a careful discussion with the school team about how hearing aid use impacts access to education on the IEP. In my experience, starting with use at school during a structured time when one on one attention can be given works best. Avoid starting in the louder settings like gym and the cafeteria.

2. What about when it is too loud in a restaurant/ cafeteria/ gym? He seems overwhelmed with his hearing aids on in places like that and we very often just take the hearing aids off preemptively. Is there a better way to handle extra loud situations?

I believe that louder settings require a slower desensitization process. Use a visual timer to help your child tolerate wearing the aids in these noisier settings for a short amount of time. That also allows you to end on a good note. Increase the amount of time they are worn in this setting over time as your child gets used to them. Some aids also have an app that allows parents to decrease the volume on aids in these louder settings. Teaching your child to advocate for themselves and to say it is too loud could then allow you to decrease the volume but keep the aids in.

3. He eats them!!! How do we get him to stop chewing on his ear molds when he takes them off!??

Look for something that has a similar texture that he can chew (chewelry for example). Remember, your child won’t just start using the chewelry because they have it around their neck to chew on. You will have to teach them to replace the glasses with the chewelry. You would need to sit next to him during times that he is more likely to chew on his glasses. When he reaches for his glasses, you will need to redirect his hands to the chewelry.

Allyson, a parent in Albuquerque, NM:

1. Our insurance expects compliance with our daughter’s CPAP to be at 6hrs per night 80% of the month to continue their coverage. We were able to extend it month to month but was causing so much anxiety for us parents. Any tips or ideas dealing with insurance so we can continue a gradual desensitization to her CPAP?

Unfortunately, the challenge that you have is one that I have encountered many times and unfortunately have not found any tricks to. We continue to advocate on our end and try to explain to medical supply companies all that we are doing to get the child to become complaint with wearing the equipment. Unfortunately, it is then up to them.

Danielle, a parent in Denver, CO:

1. We did a lot of CPAP practice/desensitization a year ago and our son accepts putting it on at bedtime. The issue is he repeatedly takes it off all night. The folks at the sleep clinic want us to continue to practice during the day but it’s hard to see how that will help with him keeping it on all night, and it’s just such a hassle to drag out every day. Is daytime practice really that effective in this situation?

It depends on why your child is taking it off. If your child is taking it off without knowing it (still asleep), daytime practice can be helpful, as it gets the child to become desensitized to the sensation or feel of the equipment, thus reducing the unconscious need to take it off at night. Some of our families will also gut it out for a few weeks and just sleep in the room with their child and replace the mask each time it is taken off.

2. Also, our son has ruined a couple of pairs of glasses by chewing on them. We’re only letting him wear the under complete supervision. As a result he wears it at school but hardly ever at home since it’s so easy to turn our back and then another pair of glasses is ruined. Any suggestions?

I would have your child play, relax, sit within line of sight when at home. Provide positive attention and praise for keeping his glasses safe. You may also need to give your child something different to chew on (chewelry) and continuously practice having your child chew on the chewelry instead of their glasses.

Laura, a parent in Midlothian, VA:

1. How would you adjust these steps for a child that has no concept of time (aka a 2 year old).

I would have practice occur during play time with your child. Put the equipment on and then begin playing. If your child reaches for their equipment or successfully takes it off, place your hand on the toy they are playing with or move the toy away and indicate that the equipment first must be put back on, and then you can continue to play.

2. Regarding CPAP if a child won’t accept pressure while awake is it a bad idea to put it on after they fall asleep, even if you are working to get them to accept during the day?

I am not a fan of putting it on when they fall asleep only because it can be even more distressing and alarming if your child wakes up in the middle of the night with it on their face. They will have a much more difficult time practicing when awake if they have this experience. That being said, I have many families who have done this and it is been fine.

Mary, a parent in Oakland, CA:

1. My son started off strong using his CPAP machine but after 10 or so nights he refuses to wear it. How do I start over?

Start over the same way you desensitized him the first time. That way, it is a familiar process. I would also think about what could have resulted in the refusal. It could be that he is testing whether you will stay first with the use of CPAP or it could be that he had a cold and that the CPAP was more distressing during that time. Either way, I would follow your previous procedure.

Tangi, a parent in Cranbaury, NJ::

1. How do you deal with insurance companies with cpap machines with the required amount of hours. they require at least 4 hrs which is long in the beginning.

Unfortunately, the challenge that you have is one that I have encountered many times and unfortunately have not found any tricks to. We continue to advocate on our end and try to explain to medical supply companies all that we are doing to get the child to become complaint with wearing the equipment. Unfortunately, it is then up to them.


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Award-Winning Actor Colin Farrell Goes Above & Beyond for Global

November 3rd, 2019 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

From Down Syndrome WorldTM 2019 Issue 3 of 4


Ensuring 2019 Global Ambassador Charlotte Fonfara-LaRose has a ball at the red carpet premiere of Dumbo


This article was published in the award-winning Down Syndrome World™ magazine. Become a member to read all the articles and get future issues delivered to your door!

IN MARCH 2019,Charlotte Fonfara-LaRose attended the movie premiere of Tim Burton’s live-action remake of the Disney classic Dumbo as Colin Farrell’s guest. Farrell, who plays circus stalwart Holt Farrier in the film, says, “I was so happy to see Charlotte again at the premiere, and I hope to see her again soon!”

Charlotte assures us the feeling was mutual.

“I felt like a celebrity on the red carpet — he totally remembered who I was and gave me a hug!”

Other cast members in attendance included Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, and Alan Arkin. As for hanging out with other celebrities on the red carpet like Helen Mirren, Charlotte exclaims, “It was so exciting!”

This amazing opportunity stemmed from Farrell’s generous live auction donation at the Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s 10th Anniversary Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show in 2018, where Charlotte was a model and Farrell was an awardee. This year, Charlotte has been chosen as the 2019 Global Ambassador where she and her family will be honored at Global’s marquee annual fundraiser.

MEET CHARLOTTE FONFARA-LAROSE

The 16-year-old firecracker was named after her maternal grandmother, Charlotte. Charlotte is a natural activist who loves to help people.

“I help anyone feeling sad feel better by giving them a hug,” she says.

Cathy Fonfara and Scott LaRose had Charlotte in 2003. The young new parents did not learn Charlotte would have Down syndrome until she was born, causing quite a shock. However, both Cathy and Scott come from large dedicated families, who rallied in support of their beautiful new addition to the family.

“Her birth made us want to be better people, and we wanted better for her,” says Cathy. “She is really the reason that we have such a great relationship and that we are a loving family together.”

Scott recalls that his father, who was an engineer and probably knew the least about Down syndrome in the whole group, came to them two days after Charlotte’s diagnosis with a binder of information.

“It was a very touching way to approach things, and I think it certainly helped us dig in a little bit,” Scott tells.

Sixteen years later, the family remains close. The Fonfara and LaRose families have a unique arrangement that works well for them and gives Charlotte lots of quality time with her large extended family.

“Scott and I are no longer a couple, but we are a family and we will always be a family,” says Cathy. “We vacation together, we go out to dinner as a family, and we spend every holiday together as a family.”

Charlotte lives full time with her mom and 8- year-old sister, Noelle, in Annapolis, Maryland. Scott is a ver y attentive father who is involved in every aspect of Charlotte’s life. Charlotte also has special relationships with both her grandmothers: Cathy’s mom, whom she calls “Oma,” and Scott’s mom, whom she calls “ Gigi.”

Charlotte is an inspiration to her family and a role model to her little sister, classmates, and peers. She doesn’t let Down syndrome get in the way of pursuing her dreams, and she lives her life as any typical 16-year-old. She loves horseback riding, swimming, paddleboarding, and traveling. In fact, she’s traveled to over 30 states and 10 countries with her family! She has a boyfriend named Zach, whom she has known since childhood, and they love going on sushi dates. Charlotte has dreams of owning a bagel shop one day, marrying Zach, and living in a blue and red home together.

Charlotte has inspired her mom into action.

“Over the years Charlotte has shown me that all she needs is what all children need: love, support, and encouragement,” says Cathy. “She also has helped me to educate doctors, teachers, and school administrators about the ability and potential of people with Down syndrome.”

GLOBAL’S 2019 AMBASSADOR

This year, Charlotte and her family are thrilled to be named an Ambassador family at the 2019 Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show. The event is the largest fundraiser for Down syndrome in the world. Over 1,400 self-advocates, families, Hollywood and sports celebrities, community philanthropists, and government leaders attend each year.

Charlotte and her family are no strangers the star-studded evening, though. Cathy and Charlotte were introduced to Global when Zach was in Global’s Washington, D.C. Gala in 2013. Charlotte and Zach danced on the runway together during a performance by Sheryl Crow!

“When we attended our first fashion show, we were astounded by the effort, quality, and attention that Global put into providing such a beautiful and festive event to showcase the beauty of individuals with Down syndrome,” says Cathy.

While she is always impressed by the famous and influential people who come out to support the show every year, Cathy is clear.

“The best part is when the models walk the runway, unintentionally stealing the spotlight from those celebrities escorting them,” she says. “The pride and joy on the models’ faces is indescribable and inspiration is palpable.”

Charlotte and her family have now attended seven Global fashion shows.

COLIN FARRELL’S SPONTANEOUS AND IMPROMPTU GENEROSITY

In 2018, at Global’s 10th Anniversary Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show, guests went wild for the 25 models with Down syndrome, including Charlotte. They were also brought to their feet by two inspiring recipients of Global’s Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award — Zack Gottsagen and Colin Farrell.

Farrell is an award-winning Irish actor and activist. He received his first Golden Globe for In Bruges and was nominated for multiple awards for his performance in The Lobster, starring opposite Rachel Weisz. More recently he has star red in the Harry Potter spin-off prequel, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Killing of a Sacred Deer with Nicole Kidman, Roman J. Israel Esq. with Denzel Washington, and the Disney live-action film Dumbo directed by Tim Burton.

Farrell uses his public platform to support organizations he is passionate about. He serves a celebrity partner for the United Nations’ World Food Programme, was an official spokesperson for the Special Olympics World Games in Shanghai, and supports nonprofits focused on the differently-abled community in tribute to his son, James.

As a father to a son with Angelman syndrome, Farrell has supported the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics for over a decade. He credits his son with making his life more meaningful and fulfilling.

“James’ very existence has changed so much about my life and how I preserve my own life selfishly being a caretaker and having the gift of being a protector and a provider for James, and as someone who loves him endlessly, someone who has watched his growth from infant to child to teenager now and approaching his young manhood,” he says. “James’ strength and bravery, his individuality and yet his commonality are things I’m constantly struck by.

“And, of course, as a result of his existence, it has afforded me the great gift of being involved in the lives of other families who care for a child who is differently-abled,” Farrell continues. “I’ve been touched by and allowed to be close to families who share the struggles of just being a par ent first and foremost but also the extra struggles that can arise from being a parent of a child who is differently-abled. James’ enrichment of my life is beyond measure.”

Indeed, James and his work benefiting the differently-abled brought Farrell to Denver last year to receive Global’s highest honor. During the fashion show’s live auction, Farrell jumped up on stage alongside Jamie Foxx, Jeremy Renner, Von Miller, and John C. McGinley and spontaneously offered a trip to Hollywood and tickets to the premiere of Dumbo. Impressed and moved by Farrell’s generosity, Charlotte and her mom decided to bid on the tickets, and they won!

At the fashion show, Farrell took photos with Charlotte and all the models with Down syndrome, and spoke to reporters on the red carpet.

“Seeing all of the members of the community walking down the runway and seeing how much they were empowered, and how the models and every single person in the audience was enraptured, seeing this as an indelible moment and celebration of their lives, and their brilliance as human beings and spirits both individually and as a community, was extraordinarily enriching and also emboldening to observe,” Farrell says.

“What a class act to not only support Global with his presence at the gala but to also offer an ex citing item to raise more money,” says Cathy. “And then be so down to earth and caring to make my sweet Charlotte feel so special.”

FIGHTING DISCRIMINATION AND OVERCOMING CHALLENGES — A REWARDING LIFE

Thousands of guests travel from all over the world to see Global’s iconic fashion show, where models with Down syndrome rock the runway with their celebrity escorts. The evening gives attendees an opportunity to learn, network, and support Global’s work. Through ticket and table purchases, model sponsorships, silent and live auction bids, and general donations, the proceeds from Global’s Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show benefit their affiliates’ important work in research and medical care.

“The underlying theme of the fashion show is actually human and civil rights, and our event gets to flip an old, negative paradigm on its head,” says Michelle Sie Whitten, President and CEO of Global. “From very active members of the Global community to people who are completely new to Down syndrome, everyone leaves feeling they are a part of something bigger than themselves.”

Charlotte’s family agrees.

“We’ve faced some heartbreaking discrimination in the education system, with teachers creating restrictive learning environments and blatantly excluding kids with special needs,” says Cathy. “One of the many great things that Global does is helping every individual with Down syndrome with education from academia to life skills. They work with parents and their children on their IEPs (individualized education programs), and they are now developing an education center at their new headquarters to focus on vocational training.”

Global aims to show the world that people of all abilities , like Charlotte and James, should have the opportunity to reach their full potential and live happy, rewarding lives.

“Educating our medical professionals and our community is important,” says Farrell. “Imagine you are told your child may never walk and then you see your child take his or her first steps a couple of weeks short of their fourth birthday like James did. The profundity and the emotional magnitude are overwhelming and must be shared with others to educate how y our child’s future is communicated. So there will be great challenges with your child like any child, but the rewards can be unimaginable and even more magnified.”

WORKING HARD TO CREATE HEALTHY LIVES

Global’s Ambassadors and models help raise awareness and advocate for people with Down syndrome to have equal access to transformative research, lifesaving medical care and other opportunities. And who’s at the top of Global ’s contact list for this? The U.S. government. Down syndrome has been one of the least-funded genetic conditions by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for nearly 20 years, despite being the leading cause of developmental delay in the U.S. and the world.

Angelman syndrome is also a genetic condition. Farrell says that although he was saddened to learn about this disparity in funding, he wasn’t surprised.

“I think maybe the reason for this is a bittersweet one,” Farrell says. “Because people with Down syndrome are often presented as loving and happy, members outside of the community may think there’s no help needed. And it’s our job to teach others that people with Down syndrome need specialized medical care and research and, frankly, help throughout their lives and raise awareness.”

Farrell is optimistic about the progress in research for various genetic conditions “It’s an exciting time in science, and the future is looking brighter for our children than ever before.”

Over a decade of Global lobbying Congress and collaborating with the NIH has resulted in a tripling of the NIH’s Down syndrome research budget, from $27 million in 2016 to $77 million in 2019.

“Through Global, we have come to understand that people with Down syndrome have a different disease profile and that they need specialized medical care throughout their lives,” says Scott. “I was shocked to learn that there are no updated, evidence-based medical care guidelines for adults with Down syndrome. We are hugely grateful to Global and the experts who are working to create those for Charlotte and our community.”

“Global’s amazing work in advocacy, medical care, research, and government legislation will help my daughter and others with Down syndrome be able to live the lives they want and the lives all parents wish for their children,” says Cathy.

“Global’s work is so important because they help find the best treatments for people with Down syndrome who are sick,” Charlotte adds.

The connections between Down syndrome and cancer research are particularly important to the family. In 2016, Charlotte’s friend Mary Miller was diagnosed with leukemia. Charlotte and Mary, both born with Down syndrome, have been friends since appearing as models in Global’s 2014 Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show. Motivated by Mary’s fight against leukemia and their desire to fund critical Down syndrome research, Cathy and Scott funded a Basic Science Grant to Joaquín Espinosa, Ph.D., and his team at the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Additionally, Charlotte’s grandmother Gigi has cancer, and as always, the family is supporting her every step of the way.

“Charlotte has a heart of gold and is already a champion for others who are sick or who she feels are disadvantaged in some way,” says Cathy. “She was just born that way, and we can’t wait to see what challenging projects and work she will take on going forward.”

“As a parent, Charlotte is my number one priority,” says Scott. “I want to make sure she receives everything she needs to reach her potential. By supporting Global, we have the luxury of not only helping Charlotte, but helping all people with Down syndrome and that’s an amazing feeling.”

Charlotte will be featured at Global’s Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show on Saturday, Nov. 2. Farrell encourages everyone to support her.

“I would recommend anyone who gets a chance to support Global and the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show in Denver try and make the trip. Charlotte and everyone with Down syndrome deserve your attention. The event itself is love, community, harmony, unity, and unbridled hope for our future.”

“Whether she is being poked and prodded for medical tests, being underestimated by teachers at school, or having people staring at her as she walks down the street, Charlotte has always been brave, resolute, and true to herself. She is truly a great role model and Ambassador.”

Charlotte is excited to apply her strength and passion to her new role with Global.

“As Global’s Ambassador, I hope to help other people with Down syndrome be healthier through medical research, to bring attention to Global’s mission, and to bring respect to people with Down syndrome.”


Like this article? Join Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s Membership program today to receive 4 issues of the quarterly award-winning publication, plus access to 4 seasonal educational Webinar Series, and eligibility to apply for Global’s Employment and Educational Grants.
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Celebrities vow to raise awareness and funds for life-saving and transformative medical care & research at Global’s Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show

Top Row (L-R): Quincy Jones, Henry Winkler, Laura Linney, Terrell Davis, Charlotte Fonfarra-LaRose; Bottom Row (L-R): Eric Dane, Shamari and Ronnie Devoe, John C. McGinley, Amanda Booth, Megan Bomgaars

Press Contacts:
Rejena Carmichaelrcarmichael@globaldownsyndrome.org | C: (240) 603-5494
Anca Callacall@globaldownsyndrome.org | C: (720) 320-3832

Denver, CO (October 22, 2019) – Today the Global Down Syndrome Foundation (Global) announced Emmy Award-winning actor, producer, and director Henry Winkler; Academy Award-nominated and award-winning television and film actress Laura Linney; NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Davis, and R&B royalty and husband-wife dream team Shamari and Ronnie DeVoe will join its celebrity lineup for the 11th annual Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, 1550 Court Place, on Saturday, November 2. The marquee event is the largest Down syndrome fundraiser in the world.

Winkler, Linney, Davis, and the DeVoes will join Global in honoring their 2019 Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award (Q-Award) winners and stars, Amanda Booth and Megan Bomgaars. Both women are passionate advocates for the differently-abled community, and Megan herself has Down syndrome.

Other confirmed celebrities for the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show include: music legend and inspiration behind the Q-Award, Quincy Jones; Global board member and award-winning actor John C. McGinley; award-winning actor Eric Dane; Q-Award winner DeOndra Dixon; U.S. Squad World Cup team member and Colorado Rapids player Kellyn Acosta; supermodel and Instagram influencer Mikaela Hoover; 2019 Miss Colorado Monica Thompson; and Denver Broncos cheerleaders Jozie, McKenna, and more.

Twenty-three models with Down syndrome from around the world, traveling from as far as India and London, will rock the runway with celebrity escorts. At the event, Global will also honor the 2019 Be Beautiful Be Yourself Ambassador Charlotte Fonfara-LaRose, while celebrating the return of past Ambassadors and Q-Award winners: DeOndra Dixon and Clarissa Capuano.

For over a decade Global has funded transformative and life-saving research and medical care through its affiliates – the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome and the Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center both at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, and the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Since Down syndrome is one of the least funded genetic conditions by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Global depends on fundraising events to underwrite important work. This work includes Global’s lobbying Congress and outreach to NIH which has resulted in nearly a tripling of the NIH Down syndrome research budget – from $27 million in 2016 to $77 million in 2019.

“We are excited to share that Global’s unabating and difficult work in Washington, D.C. continues to succeed with the promise of elongating life and dramatically improving health outcomes for people with Down syndrome,” says Global President and CEO, Michelle Sie Whitten. “This wouldn’t be possible without the funds raised at the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show and the support of our amazing donors, dedicated Congressional and NIH Champions, passionate self-advocate and families, and our brilliant researchers and medical professionals.”

Various levels of Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show tickets, table sponsorships, and model sponsorships are available, including VIP levels at www.bebeautifulbeyourself.org.

About Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Established in 2009, Global Down Syndrome Foundation (Global) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome through research, medical care, education and advocacy. Global is part of a network of affiliates who work together to deliver on our mission, supporting hundreds of scientists and medical care professionals. Our affiliates include the Sie Center for Down Syndrome, the Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center and a new pilot Adult Clinic. For more information, visit globaldownsyndrome.org and follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter @GDSFoundation, Instagram @globaldownsyndrome).

Understanding Behavioral Challenges

September 19th, 2019 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

From Down Syndrome WorldTM 2019 Issue 2 of 4


An important study in the journal of mental health research in intellectual disabilities shows that children with Down syndrome demonstrate increased behavioral issues compared with their typical peers. Early intervention and a development strategy can help.


This article was published in the award-winning Down Syndrome World™ magazine. Become a member to read all the articles and get future issues delivered to your door!

A STUDY CONDUCTED by doctors at the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado, an affiliate of the Global Down S yndrome Foundation, found that 94% of children with Down syndrome experienced one or more behavioral challenges on a w eekly or even daily basis. These behaviors include wandering off, refusal to follow instructions, aggression, impulsivity, and difficulty transitioning from activity to activity. Behavioral challenges can not only impact a child’ s quality of life but also cause major str esses for parents, teachers, and other caregivers.

In the study, Lina Patel, Psy.D., and her three co-authors, Kristine Wolter-Warmerdam, Noel Leifer, and Francis Hickey, M.D., analyzed current tools for measuring behavior in children with Down syndrome to determine which methods were effective and which could be improved upon. They also surveyed parents to learn about which behaviors were the most common and if any challenges shared a common denominator. The doctors published their results in late 2018.

Children with Down syndrome have many positive behavioral traits, and typical children certainly have negative behavioral issues. However, because of lack of research, behavior issues in children with Down syndrome are less understood. Behavioral challenges can hamper a child’s ability to function independently, perform well in school or other social settings, and even handle everyday tasks, such as bathing and dressing, at home. By understanding what can trigger certain behavioral issues, parents and teachers can better develop strategies to intervene before issues progress.

COMMUNICATION TOOLS: A COMMON DENOMINATOR

A variety of factors may fuel undesirable behaviors, according to Dr. Patel, lead author and D irector of Psychology at the Sie Center.

“I feel like motivation is a key factor,” Dr. Patel says. “It doesn’t mean that children with Down syndrome are unmotivated. It might just mean they are motivated by their own interests versus the task at hand, which then may result in behavioral challenges.”

Dr. Patel and her co-authors wanted to know which behaviors parents of children with Down syndrome found most concerning. They asked parents of 274 children seen at the Sie Center from 2010 to 2015 to fill out a specially designed questionnaire. On the questionnaire, parents were asked to state the frequency with which 16 behavior challenges occurred and their level of concern about each. Parents could also name additional behavioral challenges not listed on the form. The study is one of the largest of its kind and the results were not completely anticipated.

Noncompliance, wandering, sitting down and refusing to move, and aggression were the most common difficult behaviors parents reported. The amount and frequency of challenging behaviors was much higher than previously reported in scientific literature, with nearly 100% of parents noting the existence of challenging behaviors at least weekly.

“The most striking result we found was the frequency of behavioral challenges,” Dr. Patel says. “I think we did capture a wider array of behaviors, resulting in a higher percentage of children experiencing those behaviors. The good news is that many of the behavioral challenges that we assessed can be addressed using behavioral strategies that are informed by neurodevelopment.”

Neurodevelopment is the brain’s development of neurological pathways that influence areas including memory, intellectual functioning, attention, and focus.

The researchers also wanted to determine if any of these behavioral challenges shared a common denominator. They found that the inability of a child to effectively communicate his or her wants and needs was associated with many behavioral challenges.

“Behavior is a form of communication people use when they do not have access to other methods of communication, like verbal communication,” Dr. Patel explains. “Therefore, it’s not surprising that individuals with Down syndrome would have more behavioral challenges if they do not have more functional communication strategies.”

TAKE ACTION EARLY

The longer parents allow unwanted behaviors to persist, the more ingrained these behaviors may become.

“Behavioral interventions can make a difference and really change behavior,” says Elise Sannar, M.D., Assistant Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “If [parents] just live with [a behavior], it’s definitely not going to get better. If kids with Down syndrome learn that if they have a tantrum or refuse to move, they’ll get what they want, that will be reinforced, and they’ll continue to engage in that behavior.”

When concerning behaviors arise, parents should notify their child’s pediatrician or primary care physician as soon as possible so medical causes can be ruled out. Many behavior issues can be triggered by medical ailments to which children with Down syndrome are more predisposed. One such medical ailment is obstructive sleep apnea, which is found in up to 70% of children with Down syndrome.

In addition, parents should pay attention to the context of behavioral challenges — when, where, and with whom they occur, and what happens before and after them, says Anna Esbensen, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Research Director at the Jane and Richard Thomas Center for Down Syndrome in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

These clues can provide important information about why behaviors occur. Parents who are concerned about a behavior that happened when they weren’t around can ask their child’s friends, teacher, or employer for information about what took place.

“Teaching the child a replacement behavior or a different way of achieving or communicating their needs are helpful ways of teaching an adaptive … method of achieving their desired function,” Dr. Esbensen explains.

She continues, “Once we understand the function of the child’s behaviors, there are evidence-based strategies that can be used to modify that behavioral challenge.”

According to Dr. Sannar, one such strategy is applied behavior analysis (ABA), which uses a variety of techniques, such as positive reinforcement, to increase helpful behaviors and decrease damaging ones. ABA can be effective in children with Down syndrome, autism, and other conditions associated with behavioral challenges.

For example, Dr. Patel says, ABA can be used to stop a child with Down syndrome from running or wandering away from caregivers, also called elopement. A behavioral analyst can collect data to better understand why the child is eloping — is he or she bored, trying to avoid a difficult task that is hard, or eager for attention? Once the analyst has an answer, he or she can create a plan to address it. For example, if the child is avoiding work that feels too hard, the analyst can slowly increase a task’s difficulty or teach the child to ask for a break.

Helping people with Down syndrome manage behaviors is important, not only for their success in school and social situations but also as they enter adulthood, says Dr. Patel.

“Many individuals with Down syndrome who have the skill to seek employment may not be able to if they have behaviors that interfere with their job,” she advises. “It may be more difficult to gain independence with things like staying home alone or even living with others if these behaviors are not addressed.”

While it is more difficult to change longingrained behaviors, therapies and strategies exist that help adults, and studies are starting to address this older population.

The researchers plan to develop a more comprehensive tool to capture the full range of behavioral health challenges that children
with Down syndrome experience. They hope such a tool would help pediatricians and other community providers determine when to refer children to a behavioral health specialist. Most importantly, by understanding and analyzing. these behaviors, they hope to empower both individuals with Down syndrome and their parents to take necessary actions to improve and maintain appropriate behaviors.


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