Down syndrome kids 'deserve education'

Down syndrome kids 'deserve education'

The importance of education for Down syndrome children was covered during an online forum marking World Down Syndrome Day organised by the Department of Mental Health's Rajanukul Institute on Monday.

Participants discussed issues faced by Down syndrome children. There was also a music performance and magic show staged by the children.

Phaninee Thammatatpimol, the parent of a Down syndrome child, told the forum that her child can play various musical instruments, especially the khim -- a Thai dulcimer.

Ms Phaninee said her 16-year-old daughter, Chanita Thammatatpimol, can play 125 songs and has memorised the music notes for each of them.

During the event, Chanita played the khim, along with other performers including Chaiwit Sutcharitkun, a volunteer teacher at Rajawinit Prathom Bangkae School, who played the saxophone.

After a doctor confirmed that Chanita suffered from Down syndrome, Ms Phaninee said she tried her utmost to help her child and brought her to the institute for help.

Ms Phaninee said her child graduated from the ninth grade at school and she wanted to enrol in music school, but none would accept her.

Ms Phaninee said schools should be able to offer individual education plans based on the abilities of children such as her daughter.

Suchart Owatwunasakul, chairman of Disabilities Thailand, said the education of Down syndrome children is an issue that has not been addressed as it should be.

"It is difficult to search nearby schools for these children and there are not many schools that are open to them," Mr Suchart said.

"Everyone must have the opportunity to study, especially disabled people. Special children can improve like everyone else," he said. "These children just want encouragement from us."

Down syndrome is a condition in which a child is born with an extra copy of their 21st chromosome which causes physical and mental developmental delays and disabilities.

Dr Noppawan Sriwongpanich, director of Rajanukul Institute, recommended to parents that Down syndrome children attend educational programmes so they can have the best chance to have a normal life in society.

Meanwhile, Department of Mental Health director-general Amporn Benjaponpitak has introduced a telepsychiatry system for people with disabilities and mental disorders, jointly developed with the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities.

The department has also prepared training courses to boost the ability of its staff to take care of such people, Dr Amporn said.

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