Down syndrome is characterized as a genetic disorder that is associated with the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21. This extra chromosome is related to how a child with Down syndrome will mature. Children with Down syndrome will learn and physically develop in different ways compared to their peers. However, the social development aspect that develops in these children is a recognizable strength. Whether it comes from observing people interacting on television or from family members, children will mimic certain social behaviors. Social engagement and expression also tends to occur quicker and most children with Down syndrome are often affectionate and friendly.
The immediate environment that children with Down syndrome are brought up in play a major role in their social development. Children should be encouraged to express themselves to others. Children with Down syndrome possess notable skills involving visual representation and creative expression. Support should be emphasized in early childhood in order for the stigma around Down syndrome to be less pronounced, and for the child to participate in community-based activities without feeling ostracized. Children with Down syndrome demonstrate strong expression through their behavior and interactions with others, but generally have trouble in using language to express themselves. In the beginning stages of social development, parents or guardians are encouraged to assume a significant role in connecting children with others to increase interaction. However, as the child gets older, independence should be fostered so that the child can facilitate their own relationships.
Despite social expression being fostered, social competence in people with Down syndrome is often challenging to progress. This is relevant to difficulty in comprehension of social cues. When facing a frustrating situation, emotional response may be difficult to regulate. In order for such responses to improve, it is important to be candid and limit protective factors. Children with Down syndrome do not have to be excessively monitored because they are capable of their learning through their own abilities. Additionally, they tend to interact better when surrounded with others who have common interests and when activities or playtime is less complex and straightforward.
Although Down syndrome makes social competence more challenging, it does not mean it is completely impossible to nurture. Jamie Brewer is an actress with Down syndrome who has a successful career playing leads in various genres of plays and films. Brewer played the lead role, and conveyed a multitude of emotions relating to grief and expression. Brewer explains how “individuals with disabilities have different ways of coping with things.” Her disability did not hinder her ability to perform her role, and she embraced her differences in her acting. Jamie describes herself as an advocate for people with disabilities, showing others the range and possibility of what someone with Down syndrome is capable of.
Down syndrome is often associated with increased social expression but decreased social competence. Support and accommodation are essential for development in children with Down syndrome. Additionally, individuals with Down syndrome should not be compared to those without it. Their social expression and competence are just presented differently and they are capable of everything those without the disability are.
Deb, S. (2018, February 14). A barrier breaks: An actress with Down Syndrome plays the lead. The New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/14/theater/amy-and-the-orphans-down-syndrome-jamie-brewer.html.
Guralnick, M. J., Connor, R. T., & Johnson, L. C. (2011, January 1). Peer-related social competence of young children with Down Syndrome. American journal on intellectual and developmental disabilities. Retrieved October 3, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3898700/.
Lawler, M., Fontana, S., Upham, B., Phillips, Q., & Dunleavy, B. P. (2018, June 12). How down syndrome affects a child’s growth: Everyday Health. EverydayHealth.com. Retrieved October 3, 2021, from https://www.everydayhealth.com/down-syndrome/what-expect-raising-child/.