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What is SWAN (Syndromes Without a Name)?

Apr 05th, 2024 | by Kaitlin Love

Kaitlin Love

April 05th, 2024

What is SWAN?

‘SWAN’ stands for Syndromes Without a Name. It is a term a doctor may use when a child has characteristics of a genetic condition; however, it can’t yet be diagnosed. SWAN is not a formal medical diagnosis. Essentially, it indicates that the child has a recognizable set of symptoms or characteristics, but the specific genetic cause remains unidentified.

What Causes Syndromes Without a Name?

Most syndromes without a name are a result of changes in a child’s genes. Here are some reasons why a child may be given the label ‘SWAN’:

  • Many genetic differences remain unidentified or poorly understood despite advancements in medical testing
  • Some children may have rare genetic conditions not yet identified or included in standard tests
  • Symptoms can overlap with multiple genetic syndromes, making diagnosis challenging

What Are Some Challenges Children With Swan Will Face?

The challenges that children with SWAN face will vary greatly. Not all children experience all of the following challenges, and the severity can range from mild to severe.

  • Global developmental delays
  • Intellectual disability
  • Behavioural issues
  • Sensory sensitivities, such as being overly sensitive or under-responsive
  • Seizures or epilepsy
  • Heart defects or other organ abnormalities
  • Gastrointestinal issues like feeding difficulties or digestive problems
  • Poor coordination, balance issues, or muscle weakness

What Are Some Treatment Options for SWAN?

Treatment options are symptom-based, meaning that your therapists will focus on managing the specific challenges the child is experiencing. Some common treatment options include:

  • Physiotherapy: to improve motor skills, muscle strength and coordination
  • Occupational therapy: to improve daily living skills, fine motor skills and sensory processing
  • Speech and language therapy: to support speech delays, language difficulties and communication skills
  • About the Author

    Ever since Kaitlin was young, she always knew she wanted to help people. After finding her way into speech pathology, she became truly passionate about supporting those with communication and swallowing needs. In her spare time, Kaitlin is constantly trying out new hobbies and spending time with her family, friends, and two dogs! 

    About NAPA Centre

    In this blog, we discuss causes, characteristics, therapy and treatment options for Down syndrome.At NAPA Centre, we take an individualised approach to therapy because we understand that each child is unique with very specific needs. We embrace differences with an understanding that individualised programs work better. For this reason, no two therapeutic programs are alike. If your child needs our services, we will work closely with you to select the best therapies for them, creating a customised program specific to your child’s needs and your family’s goals. Let your child’s journey begin today by contacting us to learn more.

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