OT Activities for Down’s Syndrome

OT Activities for Down’s Syndrome

OT Activities for Down’s Syndrome

The OT activities in Down’s syndrome target limitations and improve the functioning of individuals. The cause for Down’s is trisomy of the 21st pair of chromosomes. Thus, instead of 46 chromosomes, the child has 47 chromosomes. A child with Down syndrome has hypermobility of joints and laxity of ligaments Also, they have specific physical characteristics. And, intellectual disability is present.

Note that every child with Down is different. While some may have medical complications and need elaborate interventional services, others may be relatively well adjusted. Consequently, their degree of independence in daily activities varies too.

Persons with Down’s Syndrome may have a lower IQ compared to their peers. However, every individual irrespective of their IQ can possess unique talents and skills like no other. They can also grow up to have a typical family and career, just like us all!


(Read more about Down’s syndrome)

Let us look at areas and activities selected:

Fine Motor Skills:

Not only do children with Down’s have shorter fingers, but they also have hypermobile joints. This makes fine motor skills difficult to master. Subsequently, an Occupational Therapist helps with various fun-based activities to improve this area. These are:

  1. Art and crafts: This requires tearing, cutting, sticking, dabbing, painting or coloring.
  2. Rubber band activities: This includes stretching bands, placing them on cups. Also, bottles, or pegboards.
  3. Beading, magnetic play: As slightly resistive activities.
  4. Clay-based activities, cutting: For hand functions.
  5. cooking skills like sandwich stacking as a repetitive task.
  6. Foam squeezing and water play for hand awareness.
  7. TheraBand and elastic bands to improve hand strength.
  8. Use of tongs/ tweezers for finger movements, manipulation.
  9. Pegboards and puzzles.

Gross Motor Skills:

These include ball-based play, motor imitations, target-based games. These also include balance board activities, strength training, and coordination.

These are:

  1. Mazes or Obstacle course.
  2. Using the trampoline.
  3. Therapy ball exercises.
  4. Walking with or without assistance on the balance beam.
  5. Target-based games.
  6. Crossing midline with reaches and transfers.
  7. Bilateral integration helps with posture and movement, as also with using both sides efficiently.

More on Motor skills

Activities of Daily Living:

These activities help an individual to practice skills for  independent functioning in daily needs:

  1. ADL boards: They not only help with practicing skills like zipping-unzipping but also buttoning-unbuttoning. Additionally, velcro usage certainly helps. Therefore, practice for using taps, handles, fasteners, and/or locks is achieved. Practice entails better performance of tasks.
  2. Practice sessions for instrumental ADL: Here the OT helps with positioning and usage of required equipment for effective functioning.

Self-Care Skills:

These skills enable the child to look after themselves. They include eating, bathing, toileting, grooming, or dressing. Subsequently, an Occupational Therapist identifies difficulties faced in these areas. Typically, selected activities target areas of strengthening, coordination, grip, grasp. Also, environmental modifications are considered and suggested wherever necessary. Regular and constant medical check-ups will ensure the overall well-being of the individual. Regular hearing testing by an Audiologist is also mandatory.

Occupational Therapist suggests strategies and the use of adaptive devices. They provide training for maximum functional independence.

Sensory Integration:

Children with Down Syndrome may have difficulty processing stimuli received. They either react overly to a stimulus or ignore this stimulus completely. Thus, this affects their interaction with family and peers. Also, it affects the way they interact within their environment.

An OT looks at the sensory profile of the child and suggests activities accordingly.

1.Calming or stimulating activities are selected. These include:
  • Ball bouncing.
  • Ball pressure.
  • Jumping on the ball.
  • Transfers while on the ball.
  • Blanket rolls or sandwich games.
2. Activities for proprioceptive inputs are
  • Pushing the wall.
  • Using weights in various ways.
  • Thera band.
  • Joint Compression.
3. Vestibular Inputs based activities are:
  • Use of bolster swing.
  • Therapy/Swiss ball.
4. Tactile input-based activities like:
  • Brushing.
  • Sensory Play.
  • Massage.

More on Sensory based activities

Oral Motor Activities like:
  1. Blowing.
  2. Sipping.
  3. Oral motor imitation.
For babies with Down Syndrome, care is taken for:
  1. Positioning and handling and,
  2. Facilitating activities.
  3. Weight-bearing and,
  4. Weight shifts.

These aid in achieving developmental milestones.

Social Activities:
Along with the obvious benefits of a group setting, these help with emotional development and delayed gratification too.
  1. Peer interaction
  2. Group Interaction and,
  3. Play session

The limitations faced by the child are real. Thus, selected activities are broken down into groups of simple tasks. For a child, this helps with sustained attention and completion. Consequently, activity completion boosts their self-confidence.

Also, children perform better with encouragement. Help them by truly being their support systems. Moreover, Play is one way to gain maximum skills for a child with Down Syndrome. A child learns many skills by play-based spproach.

Although there is no cure for Down syndrome, the medical complications associated with it can be treated and managed. Individualized treatment for Down syndrome is available. As a result, it is critical for parents to understand the fundamentals of good parenting skills when dealing with a special child. Involve all the family members so that the burden on you reduces.

Our home is the biggest therapy space one can ever have but it also presents itself as the biggest challenge because of number of distracters which are present. These distracters present themselves in a much larger way when the child is not interested in the therapy activity. Therefore it is very crucial to integrate the therapy activity in the activities of daily living. Have time for play and natural conversation so that learning becomes fun for the child.

Read more about Playing with OT activities here.





Amruta Tamboli
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  • Niraj kumar

    Very usefull

    • Amruta Tamboli

      Thank you

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