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The NZDSA is extremely pleased we can offer our members an invaluable new resource to learn about the needs of the older person with Down syndrome, as well as a follow-up workshop to answer your questions.

The digital resource The Golden Years, Ageing and Down syndrome is presented by expert Geraldine Whatnell and discusses how ageing may affect their health and wellbeing, as well as supports they may need if they are diagnosed with dementia.

The valuable video offers background on a range of subjects and demonstrate best practice when supporting people with Down syndrome. The subjects include:

(Click here to watch or download the full video).

  • Ageing and Down syndrome
  • Importance of health checks
  • Explores the connection between  Down syndrome and dementia
  • Looks at the myths about Down syndrome and dementia
  • Assessment and diagnosis of dementia
  • Understanding dementia and the stages of dementia
  • Strategies we can use
  • How we can help people with Down syndrome who live with dementia.

Presenter Geraldine (Dina) Whatnell is the Nurse Practitioner Mental Health and Addictions Service Palmerston North Hospital.

Geraldine brings with her nearly 40 years of professional skills and knowledge in the specialist area of developmental disabilities (intellectual disabilities and/or Autism Spectrum Disorder) and mental illness.

Alongside this, Geraldine has a wealth of personal lived experience as her younger brother Mark having a diagnosis of Down syndrome .

Getting older is associated with many changes, both biological and social. For someone with Down syndrome these changes can be particularly daunting and difficult.

There is evidence to suggest that some biological problems related to ageing can occur earlier in people with Down syndrome than in the general population.

The marked improvement in life expectancy for people with Down syndrome (an average of 60 -70 years, compared to an average of 9 years around 1900) also means that the problems relating to the condition and old age are only now being researched and addressed.

Unfortunately,  there are very limited few resources available for families and whānau who support and care for aging people with Down syndrome.

The NZDSA recognises this gap and decided to develop this resource to start filling this void.

In New Zealand there is no strategy or plan to address dementia for the general population therefore there is even less knowledge, information and support for people with Down syndrome.

If you are interested you can read and support this open letter to the Government to be more pro-active in this area.

https://mailchi.mp/alzheimers/stand-with-us-sign-our-open-letter-to-government?e=59bc99ddea

Click here to watch or download the video.

You do not want to miss this.

Make sure you check out the long list of world-leading presenters, who will cover most key topics that may be important to people with Down Syndrome as part of the NZDSA Virtual Down Syndrome Conference.

REGISTER HERE

The NZDSA this month will celebrate its 40th anniversary by hosting the largest Virtual Down Syndrome Conference ever organised in this country, to coincide with World Down Syndrome Month.

The virtual conference will offer a stunning variety of high-profile Kiwi and international expert speakers who will cover a wide range of topics including education, health, speech, relationships, ageing and legal issues.

The conference will have several presentations focused on health with Andrea Simonlehner from Natural Equilibrium doing two sessions on gut health and fussy eaters, while Geraldine Whatnell will share her expertise on growing old with Down syndrome.

One session that will be exciting to parents as well as younger adults with Down syndrome will be relationship expert Dave Hicks talking about the theory and practicalities of getting into a relationship. Dave is likely to become a familiar face on New Zealand television as he was the expert on the upcoming television series Down With Love.

One of the speakers from the United States will be Kavita Krell from Massachusetts General Hospital who will explain how you can develop an innovative online health plan from anywhere in the world, while her colleague Dr Brian Skotko will do a presentation about and for siblings of people with Down syndrome.

REGISTER HERE

The conference will also offer sessions wellbeing, speech therapy, advocacy and educations, so there will be there something for all stages of life and every member of our community.

The conference will also include a number of sessions specifically for people with Down syndrome, so for the full list of those events, please click here (all these sessions are marked in orange below).

The NZDSA has hosted many conferences, seminars and workshops during its history, but geographical and financial restraints often restricted the number of people who were able to attend.

All those barriers have now been removed by modern technology and the new digital skills we have learned during lockdown.

With modern video conferencing technology, there is no reason to miss out so keep an eye on our E-new and Facebook page for upcoming details how to register.

To get all this information, make sure we can send you our newsletters, so please register your details on the NZDSA website FOR FREE, at www.nzdsa.org.nz

Some sessions will be recorded as a future resource, but many others will not, so make sure you do not miss out on the webinars you are interested.

The NZDSA is non-for-profit charity that receives no Government funding and fully depends on grants and donations, so when you register or think the webinars are of value to you and your community, please remember to make a donation, so we can continue to offer these services to raise the awareness and knowledge around Down syndrome.

REGISTER HERE

 

THE FULL PROGRAMME OF THE VIRTUAL DOWN SYNDROME CONFERENCE

Tuesday 5th October, 7pm – 8pm

Bridget Snedden, President of Down Syndrome International(DSi)

Theme: Wellbeing and Rights

Title:  Getting to the good life – The importance of having a vision

Audience:  Everyone

 

Wednesday 6th October, 7pm – 8pm

Dr Mark Sinclair, Private Practice

Theme: Wellbeing

Title: Keeping an Emotional Balance (At home with children and teens)

Audience:   Parents, whānau, professionals – all ages

 

Thursday, 7th October, 7pm – 8pm

Trish Grant, Director of Advocacy IHC

Theme: Education and Rights

Title: Are we there yet?

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals with a focus on school-aged children

 

Saturday, 9th October, 10am – 11am

Sir Robert Martin

Theme: Rights and Wellbeing

Title: From Institution to Knighthood

Audience: Everyone

 

Tuesday, 12th October , 7pm – 8pm

Erika Butters, Director, The Personal Advocacy and Safeguarding Adults Trust

Theme: Rights

Title: Supported Decision Making – a Human Right

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals with a focus on youth and adults

 

Wednesday, 13th October, 7pm – 8pm

Dr Maree Kirk, Director, STPDS NZ

Theme: Education

Title: Individual Education Plan – The capabilities approach

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals with a focus on school-aged children

 

Wednesday, 14th October, 12pm-1pm

Andrea Simonlehner, Natural Equilibrium

Theme: Health

Title: Brain and Gut Health for people with Down syndrome

Please note this session will view the recorded session hosted in September (there will be no Q&A)

It will be beneficial to view this for the session with Andrea on the 27th October

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals – all ages

 

Thursday, 14th October, 7pm – 8pm

Who: Erika Butters, Director, The Personal Advocacy and Safeguarding Adults Trust

Theme: Rights

What: Supported Decision Making – a Human Right. 

Audience: People with Down syndrome

 

Saturday, 16th October, 10am – 11am

Dr Brian Skotko,  Director of the Down Syndrome Program at Massachusetts General Hospital

and Susan Levine, Co-founder and social worker at Family Resource Associates, Inc.

Theme: Siblings 18+

Title: Adult brothers and sisters of siblings with Down syndrome: Exploring past experiences and current roles

Audience: Siblings 18+

 

Tuesday, 19th October,  7pm – 8pm

Fiona Kenworthy, Speech & language therapist

Clinical Director /Small Talk Therapy

Theme: Speech and Language Therapy

Title: Early literacy skills for children with Down syndrome – Families making a difference

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals with a focus on early literacy skills (not age specific)

Hosted by UpsideDowns Education Trust and the NZDSA

 

Wednesday, 20th October, 7pm – 8pm

Dave Hicks, Academic Programme Manager – Unitec

Theme: Wellbeing

Title: Relationships – Theories and Practicalities

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals – all ages

 

Thursday,21st October, 12pm -1pm

Gretchen A. Good, PhD, Senior Lecturer in Rehabilitation and Disability Studies, Massey University and Jane Lee, MSW, Tutor in Rehabilitation and Disability Studies, Massey University

Theme: Wellbeing and Rights

Title: Parenting during a pandemic:  Have any lessons been learned?

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals – all ages

 

Thursday 21st October, 7pm – 8pm

Who: Dr Mark Sinclair, Private Practice

What:  Managing your feelings

Audience: People with Down syndrome

 

Saturday, 23rd October, 10am – 11am

Kavita Krell, Director of Customer Experience for Down Syndrome Clinic to You (DSC2U)

Theme: Health

Title: DSC2U: An online personal care plan for caregivers and primary care physicians

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals  – all ages

 

Tuesday, 26th October, 7pm – 8pm

Andrea Simonlehner, Natural Equilibrium

Theme: Health

Title: Fussy Eaters

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals – relevant for all ages

 

Wednesday, 27th October, 7pm – 8pm

Geraldine (Dina) Whatnell, Nurse Practitioner Mental Health and Addictions Service Palmerston North Hospital

Theme: Health

Title: The Golden Years: Ageing and Down Syndrome

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals – focus on adults who are 25+

 

Thursday, 28th October, 7pm – 8pm

Who: Libby Hunsdale, Michael Holdsworth, Rochelle Waters, Amelia Eades, Luka Willems, Lily Harper, Carlos Biggemann, Bradley Lewis, Jacob Dombroski, Alfie Linn

What: Meet the Stars!

Audience: People with Down syndrome, but others are welcome to join

 

Saturday, 30th October, 10am – 11am

Dr Maree Kirk, Director, STPDS NZ

Theme: Education/Wellbeing

Title: Making visions work – Social skill development for identity across the lifespan

Audience: Parents, whānau, professionals with a focus on school-aged children

 

UpsideDowns, New Zealand Down Syndrome Association, and Small Talk Therapy, are proud to bring you this free webinar on speech and language therapy for children and young people with Down syndrome.

Are you looking for ways to support your child’s speech during lockdown?

Are you new to speech and language therapy?

Have you been engaging with speech and language therapy for a long time but are looking for new ways to engage with your child’s communication journey?

Are you frustrated or confused by what public speech therapy is being provided? Are you keen to start with speech and language therapy but don’t know where to begin?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then this webinar is for you!

Fiona Kenworthy, a specialist in speech and language therapy for children with Down syndrome, Sarah Paterson-Hamlin, CEO of UpsideDowns, and Zandra Vaccarino, National Executive Officer of the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association, are answering questions from over 100 families, followed by a brief presentation by Fiona on some tips and tricks for lockdown SLT.

 

NZDSA MEDIA RELEASE

The New Zealand Down Syndrome Association (NZDSA) urgently calls on the Government to invest in disability attitude training for health professionals.

A deeply disturbing article in the Sunday-Star Times yesterday clearly articulated and emphasised the traumatic discrimination many families experience during pre-natal screening tests, as well as the pressure to terminate their pregnancies by medical professionals.

In the story, one expectant mother explains that as she was heading into theatre to have her baby delivered by caesarean, she was asked if she would want the doctor to resuscitate her baby if it was required.

“The stories from these parents once again demonstrates how parents feel pressurised and that information is not presented in a balanced way, nor are expectant parents provided with up-to-date information about Down syndrome,” says NZDSA president Kim Porthouse.

Porthouse says that most health professionals have no first-hand experience of living with Down syndrome and may not even be aware of the unconscious bias they bring to conversations with expectant parents.

“Because they have never met any people with Down syndrome living amazingly full and rewarding lives, they often revert back to a clinical health discussion that presents a doomsday scenario of potential health risks that may never eventuate.

“The parents are in shock, and in many cases termination is presented as the only logical option before parents even have time to process all the information,” says Porthouse

The NZDSA has consistently called for the National Screening unit to invest into disability attitudinal training for health practitioners, as well as focused training on how to offer screening and share screening results in a non-directive manner and to provide accurate and up-to-date information on Down syndrome.

“We have been asking for this for many years, but it still has not happened. It is such a sensitive moment so it is also important to offer expectant parents non-directive counselling to help them make their decision, but this is not available,” says the NZDSA president.

Porthouse says that people with Down syndrome are valued members of every community they live in, but for some reason medical professionals are determined to ignore the social aspects of the discussions.

“Down syndrome in itself should not be a reason to terminate a pregnancy. The way a society thinks about people with disability underpins everything,” says Porthouse, who emphasises that the NZDSA is not challenging a woman’s right to make her own decision, “but we just want them to be able to make a fully informed decision”.

The discrimination and stigma in society does not stop once the baby is born, judging by the recent experiences of Bridie Allen, parent of two-year-old Sienna.

“After the birth of my daughter, some people asked if I didn’t get the screening, as if there had been some mistake,” says Allen.

Porthouse says that this type of question confirms the discriminatory assumption by many in our society that expectant parents would terminate.

“And let’s not forgot how hurtful this unconscious bias in society must be to people with Down syndrome, who are told that their lives don’t really matter,” says Porthouse.

Vincenzo Vaccarino is a young man with Down syndrome from Palmerston North and he says the pre-natal screening discussions make him feel “very bad and uncomfortable”.

“It makes me feel very sad to hear that parents choose not to have babies with Down Syndrome,” says Vincenzo, who married his girlfriend Rachel two years ago.

“I think it is cruel. People should consider the rights of people with Down Syndrome, we have the same human right to live, like every other person.”