Helpful advice and information
We know this is a difficult and unusual time. We’re here to help.
Here’s the latest guidance on COVID-19 as well as lots more useful information and resources.
We at Down Syndrome Ireland are doing all we can to support our members and anyone who needs help during this difficult time.
We provide all-through-life supports and services with specialists in the areas of health, speech and language, early development, education and adult training and education, employment and independence and adult advocacy.
This is a worrying time for everyone, so don’t hesitate to pick up the phone if you need us. You can reach out to any of our team and you’ll find our contact details on our team member page.
Our Clinical Nurse Specialist for children with Down syndrome Fiona Mc Grane is also available to provide advice and support during the current pandemic. Fiona can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively on 0878334916.
Hygiene is a very important aspect of safety for those that are most vulnerable to the virus. The video below from the World Health Organisation (WHO) demonstrates the correct process for washing hands – which we would advise everyone to be aware of and practice.
DSI: Coronavirus, Easy Read Guide – This easy read guide has been developed to help children and adults with Down syndrome understand the Coronavirus.
DSI: Why are we asked to wear face masks? Easy Read Guide – We have produced this easy read guide to help answer some of the questions a person with Down syndrome may have about wearing face masks.
DSI: How to wear a face mask, Easy Read Guide – In this useful easy read guide we cover the ‘how-to’ of wearing a face mask for people with Down syndrome.
DSI: If you would prefer not to wear a face mask, Card Print Outs – This printable card was created so that people with Down syndrome may carry them if they are unable to wear a face-covering due to feeling anxious or discomfort.
DSI: Vaccination, Easy Read Guide – We have recently developed a vaccination easy read guide to help people with Down syndrome understand what a vaccine is, how it works and why it’s needed.
HSE Covid-19 Public Information Booklet – Covid-19 Public Information Booklet (Easy Read) was released online by the HSE, it features commonly asked questions about the virus, how to protect yourself, how to tell if you have the virus, who should be extra careful and steps to keeping well while self-isolating at home.
HSE Launches Covid-19 Tracker App – The Department of Health and the Health Service Executive has launched a Covid-19 tracker app, which will help identify close contacts of people who test positive for the disease.
Tips for assessing illness in a child with Down syndrome – This visual guide for assessing the physiological and behavioural differences to assess sickness was made by a doctor who is also a parent of a child with Down syndrome, it includes tips for triaging and treating a child with Down syndrome.
DSMIG information – The Down Syndrome Medical Interest Group Ireland and UK released information on Covid-19 and how it may impact on people with Down syndrome.
Prevention from infection with Covid-19 – A new study was published on the 21st October 2020 looks at whether having Down syndrome is a risk factor for death from Covid-19.
HSE Health Passport – Health passports are very important for people with disabilities, especially people with communications difficulties. A health passport allows health professionals to treat the person and cater to their individual needs. You can also access this Guidance Document to assist family members/ carers in truly capturing the health needs and preferences of the individual supported.
HSE Launches Covid Tracker App – The Department of Health and the Health Service Executive has launched a Covid-19 tracker app, which will help identify close contacts of people who test positive for the disease. The app is expected to facilitate contact tracing, symptom tracking, and contain other information about the virus.
For parents and carers – The ‘New Normal’?
Managing emotions and behaviour – Often fear, anxiety and uncertainty can trigger (or amplify) behaviour problems. Our Member Support team have developed coping and management strategies to help parents at this difficult time.
Early Years –Tips for helping you and your child communicate, expert information prepared by Nicola Hart, our Speech and Language Advisor and head of our Member Support Team. She has compiled guidance on how your child learns to speak and use language as well as tips for helping you and your child communicate with each other and the world in the best possible way. The information is broken down into life stages from the early years right up to adulthood.
Lessons with Olive
We are delighted to share with parents of our younger members a series of videos that our Early Years Specialist Olive Buckeridge has produced during the lockdown. This series will cover a number of vital learning outcomes for young children with Down syndrome.
Sea and Learn – We’re continuing with our See and Learn Programme which is an evidence-based and structured teaching programme that teaches speech, language and reading skills in small steps for children with Down syndrome up to 6 years of age. The programme is designed to help educators and parents provide young children with additional support and the practice they need to acquire language skills.
Here is a training video for parents, early years educators and teachers working with young children using the See and Learn Programme during the pandemic featuring Down Syndrome Ireland’s Early Years Specialist Olive Buckeridge. The See and Learn programme is run by the charity thanks to funds raised as part of our HB Fundays campaign.
Communication Development Activities – These weekly issued resources have been developed by our Early Years Specialist, Olive Buckeridge. Olive has used these activities in individual and group therapy sessions. These activities can be easily carried out at home as each activity is nice and short. You can do one, some, or all of these activities. You may choose to do them daily or weekly, it’s completely up to you:
Early years and Education – We have a dedicated Education section on our site, aimed at helping parents of early years and primary school-age children keep on top of their child’s development and learning new skills. You can also look over our full section dedicated for family members that help with all life stages.
Education booklets – A vital resource for parents and teachers of children with Down syndrome in a variety of educational settings. We developed these education booklets thanks to funds raised as part of our HB Fundays campaign.
- Supporting students with Down syndrome in post primary school booklet provides educators and parents alike with information and advise on how to help students with Down syndrome thrive in mainstream education settings.
- Supporting students with Down syndrome in special schools booklet provides parents and educators with information and advise on how to help students with Down syndrome thrive in special education settings. It also provides suggestions for intervention for children with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
The move from primary to post primary school can often be difficult for any student. For a student with Down syndrome, that bit of extra thought, planning and preparation will help ease this transition – to the benefit of both the new arrival and the school. Our Supporting Students with Down syndrome transition from primary to post primary school booklet outlines some simple initiatives and practical steps teachers and parents can take to support students.
A very useful tool to help ease the transition from primary to post primary school is preparing a ‘Getting Ready for Post Primary School – My Workbook’. Print off this workbook and personalise it with information, pictures and other useful tips and it can be used to prepare students for the move.
Parents and Teachers – A dedicated section of online video resources for teachers and parents has been added to our website, the page hosts a number of videos highlighting key points regarding the various educational stages for children with Down syndrome.
DSI articles on transitioning for school children:
- When and how should my child go back to school
- Transitioning from early education to primary school
- Transition to Post Primary School
- Postponement of SNA model welcomed
- Update on July Provision
- Summer Provision Programme (July Provision) extended to include students with Down syndrome transitioning into primary school
Adult resource – Our resource for adults with Down syndrome is designed to help keep our members active in physically, reading, and writing activities. It also covers a wide range of other online and offline projects to stave off boredom – along with lots of useful downloads to create a fun and engaging home learning schedule during the current cocooning/self-isolating.
Vision and glasses for people with Down syndrome – In the current crisis, many people are using screens more, both for learning and for entertainment, so it’s very important to be aware of eye health. With optometrists reopening shortly, now might be a good time to consider whether your family member with Down syndrome is due for an eye test. Regular eye testing is important for all of us, but particularly children and adults with Down syndrome who are more vulnerable to a variety of eye conditions and visual difficulties.
Campaigning through COVID 19 in 2020
- DSI welcomes revised Covid-19 critical care guidance
- DSI co-signs open letter to Taoiseach outlining concerns about Covid 19 in disability residential settings
- DSI co-signs a document on Ireland’s obligations under the UNCRPD
- DSI outlines concerns on Department of Health COVID-19 guidance
- Update from HSE regarding new Covid 19 testing requirements
- DSI in ongoing communication with HSE
- DSI welcomes revised Covid-19 critical care guidance
- DSI Meets with Minister of State for Special Education & Inclusion
- DSI outlines parents’ concerns for their children ahead of the next school term
- DSI Meets with New Ministers
- Reduced Day Service Hours: update
- Families with carers ‘at bottom of the list’
- Educational supports upon return to school 2020
- DSI’s Pre-Budget Submission 2021
Campaigning through COVID 19 in 2021
- Budget 2021 – Down Syndrome Ireland broadly welcomes increased funding for disability supports
- DSI meets with Minister for Higher Education
- DSI contacts HSE and relevant Ministers to highlight issues around redeployment of vital therapists
- Covid Vaccination
- Leading Disability Groups say complete withdrawal of educational support services would be “intolerable”
- Families ‘devastated’ over special schools u-turn
- Disability and Family Carer groups welcome commitment to prioritise re-opening of schools for students with special educational needs
- Disability and Family Carer groups welcome Government announcement on phased return to school
- Government announcement on phased return to school for students with special educational needs welcomed
- Children with disabilities and their families ‘almost completely forgotten’ in schools’ row
- Disability and Family Carer groups call on Government and unions to re-engage on special education
- Disability groups ‘cautiously’ welcome partial reopening of special education
- Lack of Understanding Shown by Minister for Health to Vaccinate Essential Carers
- Submission to the ISSU
- Thousands of children with additional education needs ‘completely dropped’ from school re-opening agenda
- No consultation on changes to school re-opening plan that will negatively affect 20,000 children with additional needs
- Department of Education on supplementary support schemes
- Disability and Carers Groups secure commitment from Ministers Foley and Madigan