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Dandy-Walker Syndrome

Created for Special Education II AQ Course - Queen's University
by

Virginia Vrentzos

on 11 November 2012

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Transcript of Dandy-Walker Syndrome

Helpful information, tips and resources for educators Dandy-Walker Syndrome What is Dandy-Walker Syndrome? Prevalence What are the causes? Dandy-Walker Syndrome is a congenital brain malformation involving the cerebellum (an area at the back of the brain that controls movement) and the fluid filled spaces around it. The key features of this syndrome are an enlargement of the fourth ventricle (a small channel that allows fluid to flow freely between the upper and lower areas of the brain and spinal cord), a partial or complete absence of the cerebellar vermis (the area between the two cerebellar hemispheres), and cyst formation near the internal base of the skull. An increase in the size of the fluid spaces surrounding the brain as well as an increase in pressure may also be present. The syndrome can appear dramatically or develop unnoticed. Dandy-Walker Syndrome is frequently associated with disorders of other areas of the central nervous system including absence of the corpus callosum (the connecting area between the two cerebral hemispheres, and malformations of the heart, face, limbs, fingers and toes.
(http://www.dandy-walker.org/)
At this point, the cause for Dandy-Walker Syndrome is said to be unknown. There are some possible predisposing factors including exposure to rubella, cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis, warfarin (Cumadin), alcohol, and/or isotretinoin during the first trimester. Some family occurrence has been reported as well (and thus there is a chance of parents passing it on to their children), but it seems like that might be one of multiple contributing factors. There is no known way to prevent Dandy-Walker Syndrome. It is difficult to find Canadian statistics for the prevalence for Dandy-Walker Syndrome. The incidence of Dandy-Walker in the United States is 1 per 25 000-35 000. The sex incidence of those with the syndrome is approximately 40% female to 60% male.
(http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdesped/download/pdf/blv-DandyWalkerSyndrome.pdf)
Behavioural Characteristics Some noted behavioural characteristics include: coordination problems with fine and gross motor skills, sensory issues (brain may not process sensory input), delays in processing information, some visual difficulties, and seizures. In Lehman’s Terms (Or Other Important Information) At this point, the cause for Dandy-Walker Syndrome is said to be unknown. There are some possible predisposing factors including exposure to rubella, cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis, warfarin (Cumadin), alcohol, and/or isotretinoin during the first trimester. Some family occurrence has been reported as well (and thus there is a chance of parents passing it on to their children), but it seems like that might be one of multiple contributing factors. There is no known way to prevent Dandy-Walker Syndrome. There is a fantastic online resource for those who would like more information on Dandy-Walker Syndrome: http://specialchildren.about.com/od/dandywalkersyndrome/a/DWSschool.htm
The primary purpose of this article is for educators who need more information on how to accommodate for children with this syndrome. The author asked parents of children with Dandy-Walker Syndrome to explain the needs of their children first hand. The following are a few of the recommended accommodations from these parents:
Background Information Repetition is often key in helping my child learn, as he creates new pathways in his brain to compensate for damaged ones. Patience and repetition are required. My child may know something one week and not know it the next. Things may need to be re-taught before they really stick, but in most cases my child will eventually retain the information. My child has sensory issues and needs a stable environment to avoid meltdowns. At times her brain may not process sensory input -- things like noise, touch, or visual input -- correctly. Or just the opposite, she may seek sensory input to stay centered. Please understand that this is an issue related to her disability, and not a behavior issue. Processing of information may be delayed for my child. It may take him a moment or two to understand a question and reply. Please be patient; this is not defiance, it's just a little extra time needed for full comprehension. Changes in routine can be disruptive for my child. Please try to give us advance notice of changes if you can so we can prepare her. My child may have trouble interacting socially due to challenges with interpreting information correctly. Please help make peer contact easier when you can. My child has hydrocephalus and a shunt. It is imperative that you know the signs of increased intercranial pressure, which include lethargy, headaches, and vomiting. These may appear to be nothing more than a "bug," but in fact it is a life-and-death situation, and symptoms should not be taken lightly. My child has a serious health condition, but she is still a child with ordinary interests and hope and dreams. Please help us keep her life as normal as possible. By Virginia Vrentzos Topics For Discussion The big question we need to address is: "What would I do to include a student with this syndrome in my class?" The Dandy-Walker Alliance has a great website with a section that is very useful for educators. A survey was conducted for parents of children with Dandy-Walker Syndrome and the data was compiled into various pie charts and bar charts. The information given is meant to be helpful for educators and serve as great topics of discussion for us. The charts can be found here: http://www.dandy-walker.org/survey-results/

The following are some topics for discussion based on the information in those charts and graphs:
1. Routine is a crucial element of a good learning environment for many teachers. What are some routines that could help a student with Dandy-Walker Syndrome be more successful in a classroom? 2. According to a survey done, a large portion of children with Dandy-Walker Syndrome are commonly afflicted with seizures. What is one way we can prepare ourselves and the rest of the students in the classroom to cope with a situation where a student is seizing? 3. A large majority of parents surveyed say that their children learn better by doing hands-on tasks. What are some good hands-on activities or lessons that can be done (for a variety of subjects) in a primary or secondary school classroom? What about for a class that doesn’t necessarily use hands-on tasks often? 4. Respond to this statement: “Sometimes, what appear to be behavioral issues can be manifestations of learning disabilities. A student who appears to be not applying him- or herself, or simply not trying, may in fact be struggling very hard to keep up. Yet it’s not simply a matter of working harder or studying more: it’s a matter of learning how to work and study in order to learn and retain knowledge and skills.”
(From A Teacher’s Guide to Hydrocephalus) http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/dandywalker/dandywalker.htm

http://specialchildren.about.com/od/dandywalkersyndrome/a/DWSschool.htm

http://www.hydroassoc.org/docs/A_Teachers_Guide_to_Hydrocephalus.pdf

http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdesped/download/pdf/blv-DandyWalkerSyndrome.pdf

http://www.empowher.com/media/reference/dandy-walker-syndrome

http://www.dandy-walker.org/

http://specialchildren.about.com/od/seizuresandepilepsy/a/SDschool.htm Support for Educators Helpful Websites
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