Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Are Autism And Down Syndrome The Same

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How Autism And Down Syndrome Are Similar

Down Syndrome Answers: Is Down syndrome the same as autism?

Meanwhile, they both share some traits.

  • Developmental delays
  • Independence
  • Need for love and support

People with both conditions will have delays. Learning skills like talking, riding a bike, doing chores, and managing money might take longer. Thus, its important for people to be patient. Never blame someone for needing more time. Setting too-high expectations isnt fair to them. Instead, meet them where they are.

Also, independence will be harder. They might not be able to be fully independent. Instead of pushing them into something they arent ready for, help them. Find whats realistic and not too stressful. Help them learn at their own pace.

Above all, people with both conditions need love and support. It isnt always easy to be disabled. Thus, they need to be surrounded by helpful people. Its important to give them a safe environment where they can learn without feeling ashamed.

What Is Down Syndrome

Down syndrome , is also termed as trisomy 2. It is a genetic disorder which is triggered by the third copy of chromosome 21. People with down syndrome show mental equivalent of an eight and nine-year-old. However, some individual can lead a very normal life.

The condition is usually characterized by delay in growth, a poor muscle tone and a lower IQ.

The disorder occurs by chance and can be detected in the womb itself.

Help With Speech Language And Communication

Children with Down’s syndrome might need some help speaking.

A speech and language therapist can help. They can:

  • check if your child needs any help with their speech
  • suggest things you can do to help your child with their speech

Speak to a children’s doctor , health visitor or GP who can refer your child to see a therapist.

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The Difference Between Autism And Down Syndrome

Autism, a mysterious nature, also causes behavioral problems that lack social interaction and attachment, and are helpless to solve. Mutual interaction and peoples face do not matter for these children. Children with Downs syndrome are more likely to be guided because they are open to communication and social environments. It makes early diagnosis work easier for children with Downs syndrome. Children with Downs syndrome have much more positive personality traits, and this is not the case with autistic children.

Ruling Out Significant Hearing And/or Visual Loss As A Cause Of Attentional Problems

Down With The Syndrome.

To monitor hearing, an auditory brainstem response test or otoacoustic emission should be performed early in the childs life as a baseline. Hearing screens should be performed annually until three years of age, and every other year thereafter. Children with abnormal hearing evaluations should be seen by an ear-nose-throat physician to manage treatable causes of hearing loss.

A child with Down syndrome should be evaluated by an eye doctor during the first year of her life, and yearly thereafter. Some children may need more frequent followups depending on their visual diagnosis.

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How Has Our Understanding Of Asperger Syndrome Evolved

1944: Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger described four strikingly similar young patients. They had normal to high intelligence. But they lacked social skills and had extremely narrow interests. The children also shared a tendency to be clumsy.

1981: British psychiatrist Lorna Wing published a series of similar case studies. In it, she coined the term Asperger syndrome.

1994: Asperger syndrome listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders .

2013: Asperger syndrome and other previously separate types of autism folded into one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder in DSM-5.

Why Do People With Down Syndrome Look Alike

Its an interesting aspect of this disease sharing facial features with anyone else that inhabits Down Syndrome. Its unfortunate, but because of this characteristic it is quite easy to pinpoint someone who is dealing with this disability. This is quite unique from most other disabilities, however. Things like autism and ADHD dont give any kind of inkling as to whether this individual carries it, which begs the question, what is it about Down Syndrome that gives away this appearance.

The source, Quora, goes into fine detail about the typical Down Syndrome appearance. An abnormally small chin, up slanting palpebral eye fissures on the inner corner of the eyes, and corners of the mouth are turned down. Down Syndrome patients have muscle hypotonia, where their limbs arent stiff and well controlled like the average person, theyre floppy and mostly just hang there. They have a flat nasal bridge and a protruding tongue. Their face is flat and broad, and they have a short neck. Theres a large gap between the big toe and the other toes. They have short fingers and theyre also short in height. A person suffering from Down Syndrome, however, does not have to have every single one of these features.

Down Syndrome children are still possibly the cutest things ever

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What Is Asperger Syndrome

Asperger syndrome, or Aspergers, is a previously used diagnosis on the autism spectrum. In 2013, it became part of one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 .

Typical to strong verbal language skills and intellectual ability distinguish Asperger syndrome from other types of autism.

Autism Spectrum Disorder And Down Syndrome


Most people have heard of Autism Spectrum Disorder and Down syndrome but many do not know that a child can have both. Today we discuss this dual diagnosis in an interview with providers and parents of children with both ASD and DS.

Lynn: What do we know about the genetics of ASD and DS? Are kids with DS any more at risk for ASD than others? How common is the dual diagnosis?

Raphael Bernier, PhD: You know, Lynn, I think what gets tricky when we talk about the genetics of ASD and DS is that the DS diagnosis is made by genetic testing which reveals the presence of the third chromosome 21. In contrast, the ASD diagnosis is made strictly on behavioral observation. There are currently no genetic tests for ASD.

However, weve made massive gains in our understanding of the genetics of ASD in just the past 10 years so this does provide some insight into the relationship between ASD and DS. For example, a couple of genes that keep popping up as ASD risk genes are located on chromosome 21 in the DS critical region suggesting a genetic connection between ASD and DS. Importantly, these children with ASD and disruptions to these genes on chromosome 21 do not demonstrate the physical features of DS.

Rates of ASD in individuals with DS appear to be higher than would be expected given the population prevalence of ASD. But, there is some variability in those rates reported in the literature, which speaks to the difficulties of making a dual diagnosis.

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Asperger Syndrome Generally Involves:

  • Hypersensitivities
  • Difficulty with the give and take of conversation
  • Difficulty with nonverbal conversation skills
  • Uncoordinated movements, or clumsiness
  • Anxiety and depression

The tendencies described above vary widely among people. Many learn to overcome their challenges by building on strengths.

Though the diagnosis of Asperger syndrome is no longer used, many previously diagnosed people still identify strongly and positively with being an Aspie.

What Does It Mean

Behavioral Findings

Obtaining a diagnosis of DS-ASD is rarely helpful in understanding how ASD affects your child. And even when parents obtain a diagnosis, there’s a dearth of available information, making it difficult to discern appropriate medical and educational options. To determine what behaviors are most common in DS-ASD, we are conducting case-control studies that randomly match a child with DS-ASD with a child who has Down syndrome without ASD. These comparisons are based on the information obtained from the ABC together with a detailed developmental history and behavioral observation. Through this process we have been able to determine the following:

Children with DS-ASD were more likely to have:

— History of developmental regression including loss of language and social skills

— Poor communication skills

— Self-injurious and disruptive behaviors ,

— Repetitive motor behaviors

— Unusual vocalizations

— Unusual sensory responsiveness ,

— Feeding problems

— Increased anxiety, irritability, difficulty with transitions, hyperactivity, attention problems, and significant sleep disturbances

Other observations include:

— Children with DS-ASD scored significantly higher than their peers with Down syndrome alone on all five subscales of the ABC: sensory function, social relating, body and object use, language use, and social skills.

— Children with DS-ASD show less impairment in social relatedness than those with ASD only.

Associated Medical Conditions

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Brain Development And Asd

The development of the brain and how it functions is different in some way in children with DS-ASD than their peers with Down syndrome. Characterizing and recording these differences in brain development through detailed evaluation of both groups of children will provide a better understanding of the situation and possible treatments for children with DS-ASD.

A detailed analysis of the brain performed at autopsy or with magnetic resonance imaging in children with autism shows involvement of several different regions of the brain:

  • The limbic system, which is important for regulating emotional response, mood and memory,
  • The temporal lobes, which are important for hearing and normal processing of sounds,
  • The cerebellum, which coordinates motor movements and some cognitive operations, and
  • The corpus callosum, which connects the two hemispheres of the cortex together.

At Kennedy Krieger Institute, we have conducted MRI studies of 25 children with DS-ASD. The preliminary results support the notion that the cerebellum and corpus callosum is different in appearance in these children compared to those with Down syndrome alone. We are presently evaluating other areas of the brain, including the limbic system and all major cortical subregions, to look for additional markers that will distinguish children with DS-ASD from their peers with Down syndrome alone.

Signs And Symptoms Vary

When Down Syndrome and Autism Intersect: A Guide to DS

Although we are documenting some similarities in the way DS-ASD presents, autism is what is considered a spectrum disorder. This means every child with DS-ASD will be different in one way or another. Some will have speech, some will not. Some will rely heavily on routine and order, and others will be more easy-going. Combined with the wide range of abilities seen in Down syndrome alone, it can feel mystifying. It is easier if you have an understanding of ASD disorders separate from Down syndrome.

Autism, autistic-like condition, autistic-spectrum disorder and pervasive developmental disorder are terms that mean the same thing, more or less. They all refer to a neurobehavioral syndrome diagnosed by the appearance of specific symptoms and developmental delays early in life. These symptoms result from an underlying disorder of the brain, which may have multiple causes, including Down syndrome. At this time, there is some disagreement in the medical community regarding the specific evaluations necessary to identify the syndrome or the degree to which certain “core-features” must be present to establish the diagnosis of ASD in a child with Down syndrome. Unfortunately, the lack of specific diagnostic tests creates considerable confusion for professionals, parents and others trying to understand the child and develop an optimal medical care and effective educational program.

There is general agreement that:

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Autism Vs Down Syndrome: How Can We Differentiate

Autism and downs syndrome are both developmental conditions that occur in both children and adults. They may present in one individual although the causes, symptoms and treatments for both are entirely different.

AutismThis is a condition that affects the behaviour of a child characterized by impaired communication, poor social interactions, impaired body movement and seizures.

It is caused by a number of factors which include

  • Abnormal brain development. The inability of the body to metabolize phenylalanine amino acid a condition known as phenylketonuria due to the absence of enzymes required for the metabolic process.
  • Viral infections of the pregnant mother such as toxoplasmosis that is passed unto the unborn fetus during pregnancy.
  • Inflammation of the brain after birth as a result of an infection caused by bacteria, virus or fungus.
  • Neurodevelopmental conditions of genetic origin that affect nerves and neurons such as fragile X syndrome and tuberous sclerosis.
  • Immunological problems with a compromised immune system and the occurrence of autoimmune disorders.
  • Vaccines such as the influenza vaccine.

There are different types of autism which include

Different types of Down syndrome include

  • Trisomy 21 which is the most common type of Down syndrome.
  • Mosaic Down syndrome where an individual has either two or three copies of the extra chromosome 21.
  • Robertsonian translocation that occurs with chromosomal rearrangements with improper fusing

Lack Of Acceptance By Professionals

Problem: There is sometimes a lack of acceptance by professionals that ASD can coexist in a child with Down syndrome who has cognitive impairment. They may feel an additional label is not necessary or accurate. Parents may be told, This is part of low functioning Down syndrome. We now know this is incorrect. Children with DS-ASD are clearly distinguishable from children with Down syndrome alone or those who have Down syndrome and severe cognitive impairment when standardized diagnostic assessment tools such as the ABC are used.

Result: Parents become frustrated and may give up trying to obtain more specific medical treatment or behavioral intervention.

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How Common Is Autism

There are quite widely varying estimates in the UK and USA because there are no objective measures of autistic spectrum disorders. In the 1970s the estimates of the incidence of autism were 4-5 autistic children per 10,000 children. Currently estimates vary from 18.7 per 10,000 to 91 per 10,000. Since the 1970s, there has been an increased recognition of ‘milder’ social impairments such as Asperger syndrome, which are now part of the autistic spectrum disorders and this accounts for some increases but not all. There does seem to be evidence for a genuine increase in the numbers of children now having autism and autistic spectrum disorders. Of all individuals with a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder, some 50% have learning disabilities.

Causes And Risk Factors

Sibling with autism and down syndrome

We do not know all of the causes of ASD. However, we have learned that there are likely many causes for multiple types of ASD. There may be many different factors that make a child more likely to have an ASD, including environmental, biologic and genetic factors.

  • Most scientists agree that genes are one of the risk factors that can make a person more likely to develop ASD.4, 19
  • Children who have a sibling with ASD are at a higher risk of also having ASD. 5-10
  • Individuals with certain genetic or chromosomal conditions, such as fragile X syndrome or tuberous sclerosis, can have a greater chance of having ASD. 11-14, 20
  • When taken during pregnancy, the prescription drugs valproic acid and thalidomide have been linked with a higher risk of ASD.15-16
  • There is some evidence that the critical period for developing ASD occurs before, during, and immediately after birth. 17
  • Children born to older parents are at greater risk for having ASD. 18

ASD continues to be an important public health concern. Like the many families living with ASD, CDC wants to find out what causes the disorder. Understanding the factors that make a person more likely to develop ASD will help us learn more about the causes. We are currently working on one of the largest U.S. studies to date, called Study to Explore Early Development . SEED is looking at many possible risk factors for ASD, including genetic, environmental, pregnancy, and behavioral factors.

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At What Age Can Autism Be Diagnosed

There is now general agreement that an experienced professional can reliably diagnose autism by 3 years of age in the general child population. There is also evidence that some children may be identified earlier on screening tools, relying on early indicators such as differences in eye-contact, joint attention, pointing, imitation and play behaviors.

How Does Learning Disability Affect Autism

Surveys show that the incidence of autism increases as the severity of learning disability increases. In a recently published article looking at autistic spectrum disorders in the total population of individuals with learning disabilities in an area of The Netherlands they report the following figures. In a total group of 1436 children between 4 and 18 years, 9.3% of those with mild learning disabilities were diagnosed as having autistic spectrum disorder, 16.8% of those with moderate learning disabilities and some 43.4% of those with severe or profound learning disabilities. This study gives an overall incidence of 16.7% for the total group of children with learning disabilities or 26.1% . Similar figures have been reported from studies in Sweden and in the UK. These studies use IQ measures to group children by degree of learning disability as shown in the side box.

Most children with Down syndrome are within the range of mild to moderate learning disability – with about 10% in the severe/profound range. We might predict that the expected rates for autism and Down syndrome would be the same as those for the learning disabled population as a whole given above, but we will see below that they are probably significantly lower.

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Know The Signs Of A Dual Diagnosis Of Down Syndrome And Autism Spectrum Disorder

As a parent of a child with Down syndrome , navigating the healthcare system can be difficult and tiring, and finding the appropriate resources and interventions for your child can seem incredibly daunting. Now imagine your child has a dual-diagnosis. Did you know that 2-10% of individuals with Down syndrome also meet criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder ? What does that mean for families? With a dual-diagnosis of DS and ASD, families have more access to valuable resources and benefits for their child, such as medication and/or behavioral treatment like social skills training and Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy.

With this blog, parents will be able to better understand the differences and similarities between Down syndrome and autism spectrum disorder, consider if their child meets the criteria for a dual-diagnosis, and determine appropriate next steps.

Down Syndrome Characteristics

Down syndrome is a genetic condition that occurs when there are three copies of Chromosome 21. Physical attributes can include small mouth and nose, large tongue, almond-shaped eyes with skin that covers the inner eye, and stunted growth. Individuals with DS often experience physical challenges as well, such as vision and hearing impairments, and weight problems. DS can be detected during pregnancy through prenatal screening and diagnostic testing. According to the National Down Syndrome Society , common behaviors of children with DS include:

Autism Spectrum Disorder Characteristics

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