When I received the heartbreaking news shortly after giving birth, that my little Christina had Down syndrome, I wanted to take the extra chromosome away, because it was stealing my real daughter. Day and night I was researching the internet for a cure for Down syndrome. After all, Google has the answer to everything, right?
I have to search no more, the cure for Down syndrome is finally here! Or is it?
New findings from Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital give hope that one day the extra 21st Chromosome in individuals with Down syndrome could be silenced or at least mitigated. Dr. Ahmad Salehi, the primary author of this study, informed us that people with DS struggle to use spatial and contextual information to form new memories, a function that depends on the hippocampus part of the brain. As a result they have trouble with learning to navigate complex environments such as new neighborhoods or a shopping mall.
Dr. Salehi looked at what could be causing the problems in the hippocampus? Hippocampal neurons receive norephinephrine from neurons in another part of the brain, the locus coeruleus. Research showed that individuals with Down syndrome have early degeneration of the locus coeruleus. The new study also provides the first direct link between the locus coeruleus breakdown in Down syndrome and a specific gene. People with DS have an extra copy of a gene called APP on their extra chromosome 21. APP has been linked to Alzheimer’s, a disorder in which spatial orientation and memory function go away. APP is also linked to the breakdown of neurons that make acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter in the autonomic nervous system that plays a role in attention and works to activate muscles.
Ok, enough formal science. Let’s look at this from a different perspective. Another article will follow this one, so stay tuned for Part 2, where I will write from the standpoint of a parent who is raising a child with Down syndrome and from a humanistic and philosophical point of view.
But with all due respect to scientific research, it is already a proven fact that playing the piano enhances the spatial and contextual functions of the brain without any negative side-effects, only good ones, like higher self-esteem, improved verbal and social skills, improved motor-function, better overall health due to an improved immune-system, a more fulfilled and productive life.
Isn’t that what science is trying to achieve for our children with Down syndrome? Well, buy them a piano and get them involved in piano playing, it works wonders, I promise.
For a short time only I am offering a special reduced rate on my one on one piano coaching sessions, where I will coach teachers and parents on how to use my “Holistic Piano Method For Individuals With Special Needs.”
Take advantage of this offer and simply send me an email with your name and phone number. Write Piano For Special Needs in the subject line. Send to: email@example.com
I will contact you and we’ll figure out a good time to talk.
Send your email to: firstname.lastname@example.org