The child must participate in physical activities and quickly assume good eating habits. Remember that these children usually have a tendency towards obesity. Above all, the child and then the adolescent and adult, needs to be happy with the leisure activities they are involved with; in that it’s satisfying for him to have things to do like the brothers and sisters. First, you should get advice from physicians specialised in Down syndrome, because medical problems – especially orthopaedic and cardiac – may contraindicate certain sports (judo and horseback riding for example).
Swimming is usually very much enjoyed. This very complete physical exercise has the advantage of promoting harmonious development. Horseback riding is also a factor in fulfilment and balance. Numerous associations offer adapted group sports or track and field. Special competitions are organised. Whatever the sport, it must be adapted to the abilities of each and use teachers who are very familiar with the special characteristics of those with Down syndrome.
Pony riding, whether in a club or public park, is a very good exercise to teach a child to manage several rhythms: his own and that of the animal. For safety reasons, this activity will first require a dynamic X-ray of the cervical rachis.
A tricycle is very good for settling his knees and kneecaps, provided that the pedals are placed vertically and not on the front wheels. Later, the child can use a scooter and finally a bicycle with small wheels.
Unless medically contraindicated, swimming is a highly recommended sport which teaches your child coordination while building muscles in his limbs, teaching him to hold and manage his breath. These are useful reflexes for daily life, such as blowing his nose, for example.
Scouting, from 8 years old, may be a good place for the child to exert himself, outdo himself and make his own friends in a structured and benevolent environment. Camping and outings are often done on a part-time basis. Your child should avoid sports that will put too much stress on his natural hyperlaxity and cervical vertebra, such as judo, rugby or acrobatic gymnastics. It would be better to suggest football to the boys and dance to the girls, for example.
Holidays in a group with specialised organisations offer an occasion to experience something outside their usual life. Often looked forward to avidly, they are very rewarding for the person and develop his adaptability. They are also very beneficial for all the family. Weekend getaways are organised by experienced volunteers. Finally, participation in spiritual groups is, for some, a real source of fulfilment.