By Laura Chicoine, Guest Blogger
The Adult Down Syndrome Center is a clinic for adolescents and adults with Down syndrome located in Park Ridge, IL. Our mission is to enhance the well-being of people with Down syndrome by using a team approach to provide comprehensive and holistic health care services. In addition to providing clinical care, we also offer a variety of classes, presentations, and programs on topics related to physical, mental, and social health and well-being.
Knowledge about how to promote our health is a significant first step in being healthy. Our online Resource Library has articles, visual handouts, and videos to support individuals with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities in promoting their health. The team at the Adult Down Syndrome Center believes people with Down syndrome can participate in their own health promotion, and we should help give them the tools to do so. The Library is intended for three audiences:
- People with Down syndrome (or another developmental disability),
- Families and caregivers, and
- Health care professionals.
As is true for people without Down syndrome, people with Down syndrome can benefit from a support team (families, caregivers, and health care professionals) who are knowledgeable in health promotion.
We recognize that health includes but is far more than what happens at the doctor’s office. We cover topics such as nutrition, hygiene, exercise, hydration, sleep, and more. Our library also includes resources on social skills topics such as having conversations, managing emotions, dating and relationships, and phone/social media safety.
We are sometimes asked why we focus so much on social skills at a health care clinic. Learning and maintaining social competency is challenging for all of us. The “rules” of appropriate social interaction are often unwritten, can change based on the situation or setting, and usually require abstract thinking. Rules that were learned in school may not apply to a work or community setting. Rules also may need to be reviewed or reinforced. When we don’t follow the rules appropriately, negative consequences can occur. These may include feeling embarrassed, getting into disagreements with friends, being reprimanded at work, or losing a job, just to name a few. These negative consequences can then affect our mental and physical health. Thus, we view being able to obtain and demonstrate social competency as a form of health promotion and illness prevention.
Health promotion happens at and beyond the doctor’s office. We hope that our resources can support you in your efforts to promote your physical, mental, and social health. If you are interested in exploring our resources, please visit https://adscresources.advocatehealth.com. Our Resource Library continues to grow, and we welcome feedback and suggestions for new resources.
Laura Chicoine is the project manager for research and education at the Adult Down Syndrome Center. She oversees the Center’s Resource Library and Facebook page, assists with health and wellness groups for individuals with Down syndrome, and plans events such as presentations and webinars.