FamHealthy 10: Childhood Development and Down Syndrome

FamHealthy 10: Childhood Development and Down Syndrome

The milestone 10th FamHealthy LIVE talked about child development, down syndrome, & how we can make the world a better place for differently-abled children.

The Asian Parent Philippines, in partnership with Sanofi Philippines, had its milestone 10th #FamHealthy Facebook Live last September 24, 2020. Hosted by Dr. Geraldine “Ging” Zamora, the health webinar, “Childhood Development from A to Z,” discussed developmental milestones in children—focusing on differently-abled children, particularly those with Down syndrome. Lending their expertise on the topic were renowned behavioral and developmental pediatrician, Dr. Francis Dimalanta, and executive director of Best Buddies Philippines, Michelle Aventajado.


Parents track developmental milestones to gauge their child’s overall well-being. When visiting the pediatrician, they always check if the baby is on track in terms of the different aspects of child development—gross motor skills, fine motor skills, language skills, personal-social skills, and cognitive skills. 


In the event that there are signs that something is amiss, parents, understandably, could find it worrisome. 


Dr. Dimalanta stresses the importance of early diagnosis and intervention. It is crucial for parents to be aware of the early symptoms associated with Down syndrome and the medical complications arising from this condition. (Watch the LIVE HERE to learn more). 


Michelle of Best Buddies shares that her fourth child, Gelli, was diagnosed with Down Syndrome at birth; they started yoga therapy at 3 weeks after they got home from the hospital, and started physical therapy at 3 months. She admits that there was an initial shock and fear upon learning the diagnosis, but this was only because of her preconceived notions of her child’s limitations. 


From the get go, Michelle and Gelli began working with therapists to keep Gelli’s development on track.


Now 9 years old, Gellibean, as she is fondly called by Michelle, is doing so many things that she enjoys. As she grew and developed, albeit delayed compared to her older brothers and sister, Gelli learned things on her own, which helped her gain confidence in doing whatever she set her mind to. Like any other kid, she likes to dance, sing, make her own baon, and also dreams of becoming a supermodel.


Gelli Aventajado

Like all parents, we want a favorable outcome for the growth and development of our children—no matter their abilities. 


Dr. Dimalanta highlights the importance of parental involvement in the child’s development in making sure that the child grows up in a positive environment. 


Parents have to remember that a child with down syndrome is still a child. The child needs to be treated as any other child—with love and acceptance. 


Children with Down syndrome have abilities and capabilities. Any small progress they make is still progress. Learning is a lifetime experience for someone with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Our society’s role is to nurture them so they can also succeed in this world we live in.


Michelle recognizes that there is so much work to be done to teach the world to be more accepting and nurturing to children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

Best Buddies


That is where Best Buddies Philippines comes into play. It is a non-profit organization that is “dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). 


It has several initiatives—like the friendship program, leadership development program, and integrated employment program—that allow people to volunteer, connect, and be a “buddy” to individuals with IDD.  The organization, having being in the country since 2014, has made a huge impact on the IDD community. 


These efforts are only a start. It does take a village to raise a child, and let’s be part of a village that will love and accept every child for who they are, no exceptions.


Missed the FB LIVE session and want to learn more about Down syndrome, Best Buddies Philippines, or Michelle & Gelli? You can watch HERE.


Watch out for the next FamHealthy session on Oct 13, 2020, at 6pm! It’s time for a Vein Check: Usapang Ugat sa Paa at Iba Pa! See you there!


ALSO READ: What you should know about Down syndrome

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