Down Syndrome: What we are learning from Luke

Today I would like to introduce you to a very, very special friend of mine! At 22 weeks pregnant Luke’s mommy and daddy received confirmation that he had a 99% chance of being born with Trisomy 21, Down Syndrome. This meant that Luke had an extra copy of chromosome 21, so he has 47 chromosomes and we have 46.  The road ahead was unclear but they knew it would be special.


Down Syndrome - Learning from Luke

When I made contact with Luke’s mom, Jessica, we decided to see what Luke’s reaction would be with the dangles as there is not much information available regarding high contrast stimulation for babies with Down Syndrome, Jessica was very keen to see how Luke will react.

The first email that I received back from Jessica gave me chills, she was ecstatic about how much Luke loved the dangles. She sent me some photo’s of him and I was showing it around like Luke was my own child. His face expressed how much he enjoyed looking at the dangles. It filled my heart with joy.

For a normal baby the LittleME high contrast dangles can develop and increase curiosity, help with early brain development and you can even promote language development. Here’s how:

  • By moving the dangles above them you allow them to start following movement and eventually they try to reach out to grab – this is called natural curiosity.

  • The high contrasting colours stimulate brain development and myelination. Read more here.

  • By talking to them about the animal or shape that they are looking at they keep all those words and sounds filed away until they start talking. Added to this it is also important to understand how important loving touch is to an infant’s brain development, the cerebellum plays a huge role in proprioception.

We are still not sure if this will be exactly the same with Down Syndrome babies, but from my own research it seems to be the case, it might just take a little longer.

Jessica completed a little questionnaire for me about how she found Luke’s reaction to the dangles. I’m very excited to share this information:

Can you notice that he concentrates for longer or more on the dangles (or high contrasting colours in general) vs normal colours?

  • “Most definitely, I have placed the frame over his changing mat and he stares intently at the dangles. He has also begun to chat to them and reaches up to try grab them.”

Can you notice that he interacts more when he is under the dangles vs not

  • “As mentioned above he has started chatting to the dangles and reaching out to them. He is so distracted by them that it makes changing him a breeze.”

Have you ever placed him under the dangles when he’s a bit upset or niggly (but not tired), do you find that it has any calming effect on him?

  • “If he is crying and he spots the dangles he is distracted almost immediately calms down. With them being contrasting he spots them easily and is distracted almost instantly.”

Any other specific behaviour that you notice specific to the colours or dangles.

  • “The most noticeable behaviour trait is that they encourage interaction. His jump to baby chatting has been as a direct result of the dangles. In addition the fact that there are more than one dangle on the frame means that it has aided in his neck strength by encouraging him to look from side to side whilst following the dangles with his eyes.”

Jessica also mentioned that he she does a messaging session with Luke daily. Baby massage helps with muscle tone and has so many benefits, read more here. Before receiving the frame and dangles she found that there were areas where he did not like being touched and massaged, especially under the feet. She said that the dangles have aided in distracting him, allowing her to massage those areas.

Did you know that Down Syndrome South Africa  is also now a beneficiary on the My School Card From Woolworths.


Read more about Luke and his family’s journey on Jessica’s blog : Learning From Luke



National Down Syndrome Day is on 20 October.

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Please Note: This article was not written by a medical doctor, nor was a medical doctor directly consulted. If your baby does not react well or gets overstimulated to easily by high contrasting colours or our dangles then please consult with your medical practitioner before continuing.

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