Minnesota's Fraser organization is national leader in serving families of children with Down syndrome

MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's family was recently thrust into the national spotlight. Like thousands of parents across the United States, Palin has a child with Down syndrome. Thanks to organizations like Fraser, Palin's child is growing up in a society that will provide him many opportunities. But it wasn't always that way.

In the 1930s, what little progress had been made to support people with disabilities had come to a halt with the Great Depression. Resources to nurture children with disabilities were scarce and society placed these children in institutions. The mother of a child with special needs, Minnesota'sLouise Whitbeck Fraser believed that children with disabilities could learn and that they should have the opportunity to reach their potentials and participate in the community. Not willing to accept the status quo, in 1935 Fraser opened a school for children with disabilities. Mrs. Fraser became a pioneer in special education, gaining national acclaim for her innovative teaching methods and the remarkable achievements of her students. Today, Fraser School is an inclusive early childhood center serving more than 300 children of all abilities each year.

In addition to Fraser School, the Fraser organization provides a variety of services and resources for children and adults with Down syndrome. A family may begin with an evaluation to determine appropriate services or monitor a child's progress.

Fraser Rehabilitation Services include occupational therapy (to improve fine and gross motor skills); speech-language therapy (to improve language and communication skills); physical therapy (to improve mobility, strength, and coordination); music therapy (to improve academic, social, emotional, communication and physical skills); and feeding therapy (to manage eating or oral motor challenges).

Fraser provides consultation to child care providers to assist in including and retaining children with Down syndrome and other special needs in their programs and flexible case management services to help families access services and support.

Fraser Residential Services provide safe and caring homes for more than 200 people each year in independent living apartments and residential homes. These Fraser housing options enable each person to enjoy the highest level of independence possible and to participate in the community.

Fraser is a Minnesota nonprofit with a nationally renowned reputation, serving children and adults with special needs. This multi-faceted human service organization provides direct services, information and support in the areas of education, housing and healthcare. Fraser serves children with developmental disabilities; children who are at risk for abuse and neglect; children with autism and severe emotional and behavioral disorders; and adults with developmental disabilities. Fraser is Minnesota's longest-running, largest provider of autism services. For more information, call 612-861-1688 or visit www.fraser.org.

Frequently Asked Questions About Down Syndrome

What is Down syndrome?

Down syndrome is a genetic diagnosis that causes delays in physical and intellectual development. Individuals with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46. Down syndrome is not related to race, nationality, religion or socioeconomic status. The spectrum of impact on individuals' intellectual abilities is broad.

What causes Down syndrome?

Down syndrome occurs when an individual has three (rather than two) copies of the 21st chromosome. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. This is a genetic disorder with no known cause.

What are the signs of Down syndrome?

A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes and a single deep crease across the center of the palm. Every person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all. All people with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, the effect is usually mild to moderate.

How is Down syndrome diagnosed?

Down syndrome is usually identified at birth or shortly thereafter. Initially the diagnosis is based on physical characteristics seen as a baby. The diagnosis must be confirmed by a chromosome study called a karyotype. A karyotype provides a visual display of the chromosomes grouped by their size, number and shape. Chromosomes may be studied by examining blood or tissue cells.

How common is Down syndrome?

— Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition. One in every 733 babies is born with Down syndrome.

— There are more than 400,000 people with Down syndrome living in the United States.

— Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic levels.

What services does Fraser provide related to Down syndrome?

Fraser provides a variety of services for children and adults with Down syndrome.

— A family may begin with an evaluation to determine appropriate services or monitor child's progress.

— A family may enroll their infant, toddler or preschooler in Fraser School(R), an inclusive early childhood center serving children 6 weeks to 6 years of age.

— Fraser Rehabilitation Services include occupational therapy (to improve fine and gross motor skills); speech-language therapy (to improve language and communication skills); physical therapy (to improve mobility, strength, and coordination); music therapy (to improve academic, social, emotional, communication and physical skills); and feeding therapy (to manage eating or oral challenges).

— Fraser provides consultation to child care providers to assist in including and retaining children with Down syndrome and other special needs in their programs.

— Flexible Case Management services help families access services and support.

— Fraser Residential Services provide safe and caring residential homes and independent living apartments.

Sources:

National Down syndrome Society http://www.ndss.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=54&Itemid=74

National Association for Down syndrome http://www.nads.org/pages_new/facts.html

For information, please call Fraser at 612-861-1688 or visit www.fraser.org.

SOURCE Fraser

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