Children with Down Syndrome have been part of our society for at least as long as recorded history, yet society only began to accept these wonderful children in the 1980’s. Prior to that time most children with Down Syndrome failed to thrive due to a simple lack of medical attention. Parents were strongly encouraged by family and professionals to institutionalize the infant and get on with your life. Those families that chose otherwise faced a society that was only prepared to ignore, ridicule, or at best remain indifferent to their plight. Most were hidden from society by parents who feared for their children's safety and the inevitable social pressure which would affect the entire family.
Since then, much has changed. Children with Down Syndrome can be seen on television as professional actors, and are the subject of feature length films. They are seen in the workplace demonstrating a broad range of skills, and are included in social activities with their chronologic peers. They play sports, have modeling careers, graduate from universities and drive their car to work. Today, children with Down's Syndrome are granted normal medical care, and have become productive members of their communities. They are treated with dignity, attend regular school, and given vocational opportunities. Most significantly, the child with Down's Syndrome is loved and raised as a member of the family and the community. Today, they can achieve a quality of life that was not believed possible only a few years ago.
In examining the factors responsible for such rapid and dramatic changes in society, the most obvious influence has undoubtedly been the family. Parents led this extraordinary social revolution, and they did so with virtually no help. Today, there are agencies, organizations, and concerned citizens who strive to provide a higher quality of life for all children and adults with Down Syndrome. Parental expectations let this social change. This speaks to just how powerful expectations can be. It was the urging of parents that started Dr. Unruh and his colleagues to develop a program that specifically addressed the needs of these deserving children.
Dr. John F. Unruh is very proud of the fact that his program was the first in the world to specifically focus on the specific rehabilitative needs of children with Down Syndrome. For nearly 50 years he has been dedicated to find better ways to help. His long term exposure to thousands of wonderful parents and children has allowed him to currently provide a comprehensive approach that strives to make each individual child with Down Syndrome the best that they can be. This is accomplished in by helping parents in three areas.
First, the service helps parents get the proper medical attention for their child in accordance with world standards. There are accepted protocols that can be easily followed when parents have the right information.
Second, the service strives to provide behavior guidance when needed. Far too often because a child has Down Syndrome less attention is paid to their behavior. Oh, let him go. After all he has Down Syndrome seems to highlight the prevailing attitude parents will face. However, because the world places a high premium on behavior parents are encouraged to pay more attention to the behavior of a child with Down Syndrome. Even with some degree of disability, if a young adult is well behaved, the world opens up their arms and will provide a very high quality of life.
Third, Dr Unruh pays a great deal of attention to the developing nervous system. All children with Down Syndrome struggle to acquire a mature nervous system which is absolutely necessary to reach their potential. Without proper care and intervention, like the type of program developed by Dr. Unruh and his colleagues, a child with Down Syndrome will be unable to access, demonstrate or use their real potential. They will go through their school careers and life functioning below their real capabilities. No matter how hard they try, no matter how good their teachers and doctors are, they can not perform above the level of their nervous systems maturity. They will have higher potential but be unable to use or demonstrate it.
It is the goal of Dr. Unruh’s service to give each child the proper medical supervision, good behavior and the best nervous system possible. This is often achieved allowing the child to reach their true potential and becoming the best they can be!