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6 Exercises to help kids with Down syndrome learn to walk

Maureen used to be obsessed with baseball -- and then she had children. After she welcomed her son, Charlie, and his extra chromosome, she discovered her passion for writing about Down syndrome and disability-related issues.

With two tod...

Strengthen that core!

Children with Down syndrome (Ds) often have a much harder time learning to walk, primarily because of their characteristic low muscle tone. Here are six exercises one physical therapist recommends to help children build strength.

Crawling — army or otherwise

Strengthen that core!

When Charlie was about 15 months, he refused to crawl or even try to walk. He got wherever he wanted to go via the “army” crawl, moving along the floor on his stomach by pulling with his arms and legs. While I fretted, Nikki assured me this method was helping to build muscle for when his stubborn streak gave way to his desire to walk.

Of course, now that he’s walking, the army crawl is a thing of the past. But introducing a fun tunnel ($10 at Ikea) or by stacking pillows under a big blanket, you can create a challenging way to bring back the benefits of crawling (army or regular) — and continue to build those arm, leg and abdominal muscles.

“Every parent is eager to see her child reach the next milestone,” Nikki explains. “But each child is determined to move at his own pace, so the best thing we can do is maximize their existing interests to build strength and balance, all preparing him for the moment when he decides he wants to get to the next level.”

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