Do’s and Don’ts for Protecting Your Child’s Joints


Written By:  Hannah Taylor, DPT
Brightsong, LLC Physical Therapist

Joint protection is important for children in order to prevent damage to their growing bones.  A joint is defined as the point where 2 bones are attached in order to permit body parts to move.  So, joints include the elbow, wrist, etc.   Here are some tips to protect your child’s joints.


  • Don’t pull on your child’s arms when assisting them from lying flat on their back to sitting.
  • Don’t swing your child by his or her arms, this can cause shoulder or elbow dislocation.
  • Do use proper hand placement to assist your child to sitting from lying flat or side lying (i.e. place hands behind head, back or on hips).
  • Do hold your child at their waist or trunk when lifting them up from surface or ground.


  • Don’t allow “W” sitting (i.e. when child sits on floor and knees are bent and out to either side of body).  “W” sitting places increased pressure and stretching on hips, knees and ankles.
  • Don’t pull on their legs, knees or ankles aggressively during dressing or play to prevent hip or knee dislocation.
  • Do provide good support of ankles and feet with proper shoe wear.
  • Do encourage proper sitting habits and posture.
  • Do monitor your child’s hips, knees and ankles in standing.  Are their knees hyperextended? Do their legs rotate in or out?
  • Do call your doctor if your child complains of pain in joints.


  • Don’t allow your child to participate in high impact sports activities or intense jumping without asking their doctor. This is especially true for children with Down syndrome – they are at risk for increased laxity in neck and vertebrae.
  • Do provide proper seating positions for your child. Make sure that chair is appropriate height for child; if needed place small stool or stack of books under child’s feet for proper support.

With proper care, we can help ensure that your child’s joints are protected in order to promote good growth and development. If your child complains about joint pain or if you have concerns about their posture, gait, balance or coordination – please talk to your child’s pediatrician.  They might need to see a physical therapist for an evaluation.

Just Like You – Down Syndrome: An Interview with Rachel and Savanna


Photo courtesy of the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City


A collaboration between Just Like You films and the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City has resulted in a fantastic video,  Just Like You – Down Syndrome This video features Elyssa, Rachel and Sam – three kids with Down syndrome and their best friends, Bretlyn, Savanna and Bobby.   They talk about Down syndrome, what it’s like to have Down syndrome and how others can support those with Down syndrome and be their friend.

I have known Jawanda and Rachel Mast for almost 10 years.  Jawanda was on the Board, and then the executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Memphis and the Mid-South (DSAM) when they lived in Memphis.  Rachel attended public school and studied piano with my husband at The McMahon Piano Studio.  In 2008, the Mast family moved to Kansas and became involved with the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City.

On Saturday, December 1, I had the privilege to interview two of the stars of the video – Rachel and her best friend Savanna.  Rachel has Down syndrome.  Over Skype, we talked about the film and their friendship.  Rachel’s mother, Jawanda Mast, was also present and contributed to the interview.

How did you girls meet?

Rachel: We met at school in fifth grade.
Savanna:  We were in the same elementary school class and have known each other for about 3 years.

You girls have been friends for a while, what kind of things do you like to do together?

Rachel: We do games, movies and sleepovers.
Jawanda:  Savanna also likes Rachel’s iPad©.
Rachel: We play Water.
Savanna:  Water and Cut the Rope.

What kind of movies do you like to watch?

Rachel:  We like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and um, we watch movies at my house.
Savanna:  Didn’t we go see Arthur’s Christmas?
Rachel:  No.
Savanna:  Yeah, we did. We did go see Arthur’s Christmas.  It was good.

Savanna, what makes Rachel a good friend?

Savanna: She’s very nice, very compassionate.  I mean, she doesn’t care what you are or what you dress like.  She’s very considerate.

Rachel, what makes Savanna a good friend?

Rachel:  She’s fun. She’s kind.  She likes to hang out with me.

Tell me about the video, Just Like You – Down Syndrome.  How would you describe it?

Savanna: Very informational.  It has a lot of information about how to deal with Down syndrome and how to be friends with somebody with Down syndrome.
Rachel:  I think that it’s awesome and good.  I love it and would love to do it again. And, I want everyone to see it.

How did you like being a part of the movie premiere?

Savanna: It was fun.  We got to ride in a limo.

What else happened at the premiere?

Savanna:  We got to walk the red carpet and watch the film.

Were there a lot of people?

Savanna:  Like 400 people at an AMC theater.

Jawanda:  At the end of the premiere, they brought the 6 kids on stage for a Question and Answer. They were open ended questions with no practice.  Tell Liz your favorite questions.

Rachel:  Um, if we have boyfriends and girlfriends.
Jawanda:  What was your answer?
Rachel:  Um, no.
Jawanda:  And then she said that her mom says she’s not old enough to have a boyfriend yet.

Savanna:  I think my favorite was when they asked about the heart problems.  They thought that they did, but they didn’t.
Jawanda:  In the video, they talk about how some babies with Down syndrome have a heart problem. So, someone in the audience asked the kids if they had heart surgery.  So, Rachel went first and said yes and then started to describe her heart surgery. Then, her daddy and I said, “no – Rachel, you did not have heart surgery.”   Then, they ask Sam and he begins to talk about having heart surgery.  Then, his parents say, “no – you did not have heart surgery.”   Then, they give the microphone to Elyssa and she says, “mom, dad – did I have heart surgery?”    It was funny.

What do you want other kids to know about Down syndrome?

Savanna:  It’s not contagious.
Rachel:  Down syndrome is not scary and I love my life.

What do you want the world to know about Down syndrome?

Savanna: Individuals with Down syndrome may look and act different, but people with Down syndrome are just like you.
Rachel: Kids with Down syndrome like to have fun and do the same things as everyone else. We are good friends.

Just Like You – Down Syndrome is a wonderful video for adults and children to watch.  It shares great information about Down syndrome, but it mainly focuses on the individuals.  Down syndrome does not define anyone.  As Rachel says in the video, “it’s just one part of my beautiful self.”

One of the best things about the video is that it shows some great friendships.  Friends are people who accept us and like us for who we are.  Friends love you and make you feel special without expecting anything in return.  After watching Rachel and Savanna interact with each other and learning more about them, it’s easy to see that they have a lot of fun together and are good friends. That’s perhaps the greatest lesson and gift from this video – friendship is important and everyone needs and can be a good friend.

Special thanks to Rachel, Savanna and Jawanda, Just Like You films and the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City. 




10 Reasons to Step Up for Down Syndrome

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.  Many organizations across the United States will be hosting walks and events to raise awareness and support for those with Down syndrome in their community.  In Memphis, we will Step Up for Down Syndrome on Sunday, October 21 at the Memphis Botanic Gardens.

There are many reasons why you should Step Up for Down Syndrome in your community:

1.  By attending these events, you are showing your love and support for those with Down syndrome and their families. You are advocating for the acceptance and inclusion of EVERYONE in your community.

2.  It doesn’t cost a lot of money – $10 to show your support and you get a t-shirt and food!

3.  These organizations are mostly non-profits.  The money raised goes towards the cost of running these organizations and to fund programs and workshops in your community.

4.  You’ll see and meet some very talented children and adults with Down syndrome.  At the Memphis event, there is a wonderful talent show each year.

5.  It’s a fun family day.  In Memphis, there are children’s games, face painting, wonderful food and lots of great music!

6.  You can check out the ABILITIES of children and adults with Down syndrome in your community by visiting the Imagine the PossABILITIES tent showcasing all their wonderful achievements.

7.  You’ll be able to get outside, enjoy the fresh air and the beautiful scenery – especially at the Memphis Botanic Gardens.

8.  Take some time to visit the Resource Tables.  You’ll be able to learn more about the different agencies and the services offered in your community.

9.  Form or join a team.  You’ll spend some fun, quality time with your friends and family while helping others at the same time!

10.  You will learn that we are all more alike than we are different. Each person at these events has a story to tell and a dream to share.  Please join us and let’s celebrate the possibilities!

For more information about the walk in Memphis, please visit DSAM.

To find an event near you, please visit the the National Down Syndrome Society.

Down Syndrome Awareness

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month!  There are many things you can do to support individuals with Down syndrome in your community and around the world.

Be Respectful
:   Use positive language while talking about those with Down syndrome and others with special needs.  These individuals are children and adults with Down syndrome, not “Down’s kids” or a “Down syndrome child.” Don’t be afraid to share the message with others and encourage them to be respectful as well.  Know the facts while talking about Down syndrome:

  1. Down syndrome is a genetic condition which occurs in 1 of every 691 live births.
  2. Children and adults with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes instead of 46.
  3. Down syndrome is not related to race, nationality, religion or socioeconomic status.
  4. Children and adults with Down syndrome are more like those without Down syndrome than they are different.

Be Inclusive:    Individuals with Down syndrome do experience developmental delays, but they also have talents and gifts to share with others and should be given every opportunity and encouragement to do so.  Most children attend schools in their neighborhood, some in regular classes and some in special education.  Some adults with Down syndrome attend post-secondary education, volunteer and work in the community.

Many children and adults with Down syndrome play musical instruments and enjoy drawing and painting. Children and adults with Down syndrome participate on athletic teams, either with the Special Olympics or on integrated teams at school and in the community.  They have close friendships with others and may have boyfriends or girlfriends as well.

Be Supportive:  When you see adults with Down syndrome working in the community, support them and the business they are working for.  Support your local organizations providing services for these families and children.  In Memphis, the Down Syndrome Association of Memphis and the Mid-South (DSAM) provides many workshops for parents and educators throughout the year.  There are many Down syndrome associations across the United States and the world.  Most of these organizations are non-profits and function on private grants and funding.  Offer your support financially or by volunteering at their many events.

Be Involved: Support legislation and organizations to provide accurate information about Down syndrome to others. With the advancements of prenatal testing, expectant mothers are learning whether or not their baby has Down syndrome in the first trimester.  According to recent studies, 92% of women worldwide choose to terminate their pregnancy when they receive a definitive prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.  Dr. Brian Skotko and his associates have completed several studies about Down syndrome and you can follow his blog to learn more.

One of the most important things to know about Down syndrome is that each child and adult with Down syndrome is an individual – with their own unique personality, hopes, dreams and talents.

There are many different ways you can support children and adults with Down syndrome throughout your community.  To learn more, visit your local Down syndrome association or contact the following agencies:

National Down Syndrome Congress

National Association for Down Syndrome

National Down Syndrome Society

Down Syndrome Association of Memphis and the Mid-South

Now It’s Your Turn:  What are you doing to support those with Down syndrome and their families?