Down’s South London has come a long way since launching as a voluntary organisation in 1998. Today, it's a charity that provides a vital service to children with Down's Syndrome (DS) and families in South London. We've helped hundreds of children and their families during this time.
A hugely popular provision is our free early intervention multidisciplinary (MDT) therapy provision. It's available to all children with DS from birth to six years and their families living in our South London catchment area.
The therapy we offer is a unique package of speech and language therapy, physiotherapy and occupational/sensory therapy delivered by a team of highly skilled, therapists with a specialist knowledge of how young children with DS develop.
DSL is also a family support network, providing much needed support and informaiton sharing, valuable friendship opportunies for parents/carers and other social opportunities. We run a range of social events, including summer fairs and Christmas parties, as well as monthly drop-in stay-and-play sessions.
Our service is paid for by voluntary donations and through a range of fundraising initiatives by DLS's families, friends and wellwishers. We're run by a group of parent volunteer trustees to ensure all proceeds go directly to the therapy service.
DSL's service targets areas of therapy that are too often either unavailable to families, too infrequent or not specialised enough to make a real difference to our children.
Waiting lists for NHS and social services referrals are also growing constantly, but time does not stand still for our children. It's why we prioritise early intervention and encourage referrals from birth.
Timely, regular therapy is vital and can make a real impact in helping children with DS acquire the skills other children develop instinctively, allowing them to join their typically developing peers in mainstream primary education.
DSL’s specialist therapists see each child weekly, providing them with a personalised MDT programme to assist their development in all these areas and lay the foundations for them to grow into independent adults who contribute actively to society.
There's a growing body of research to indicate that babies and young children with DS will benefit from added input to help them achieve the same developmental milestones as typically developing children in a range of areas. Common difficulties include weaker muscle tone, difficulties with fine motor skills and coordination and delayed language and communication. Some also show a-typical sensory processing, which can affect all areas of development.
DSL has built up several years of evidence for its therapy approach. In 2012 we introduced an assessment tool called Bayeley Scales of Infant Development to help evaluate the value and benefits of our therapy. Using this tool, we've been able to collect solid, measurable evidence for what we believe is a compelling case for regular, early intervention multi-disciplinary therapy.
As well making a difference to a child's development, regular access to advice from therapists empowers families, giving them the knowledge and confidence they seek to support their children.
A South London parent-run charity offering a unique, specialist early intervention therapy service for babies and young children with Down’s Syndrome and a local support network for their families.