A Link With Level Of Disability
The published case reports do not always include information on degree of learning disability but in those that have this information, a substantial number of the individuals described with Down syndrome and autism have severe to profound levels of disability. In 19 cases where the information is given, 12 have severe to profound levels of disability, 6 have moderate learning disability and 1 has a mild learning disability. In other words, most young people with this dual diagnosis were in the most delayed and cognitively impaired group of children with Down syndrome.
Daniel ‘s story
My son Daniel has both Down syndrome and autism. He was not officially diagnosed with autism till he was almost five years old. The delay with the diagnosis was not due to the lack of him having almost all of the symptoms for an Autism diagnosis, but due to the fact that he already had the diagnosis of Down syndrome and history of infantile spasms.
Ds And Autistic Learning Profiles
Students with a dual diagnosis of ASD and DS have a distinct profile that differs from others with a single diagnosis of ASD or DS. Below is what we currently understand about the unique developmental profile that is DS and ASD.
Research has found that students with ASD and DS compared to students with a single diagnosis of DS:
Research has found that students with ASD and DS compared to students with a single diagnosis of ASD:
- Gesture more frequently
- Show more interest in people and surroundings
- Are more likely to imitate others
- Are less impulsive
This diagram illustrates the characteristics we currently understand that are commonly associated with DS and ASD, highlighting the developmental differences in how our students learn, play, communicate, process sensory information, and socialize:
Despite there being a lot of overlapping characteristics, the more signs and symptoms that are present, the more likely it is that your child or student may be Autistic. The frequency, intensity and complexity of these characteristics should be considered. Autism is considered a spectrum because each autistic person is unique and varies in how much or how little they may display certain autistic traits. No two people with ASD and DS are alike, each experience symptoms in different ways. This website illustrates how the idea of a spectrum can be thought of in relation to autism.
Why Pursue An Evaluation Or Formal Diagnosis
Receiving a formal evaluation and/or diagnosis can lead to a better understanding of your childs behavior and give you access to critical autism resources, interventions and support that have been shown to improve outcomes.
A formal diagnosis could:
- A formal diagnosis can legitimize a familys concerns about their loved ones development and open the door to greater community and support.
- Help parents and family members better understand, support and guide their loved one
- Explain why your loved one is developing or acting differently than their peers with Down syndrome
- Provide access to strategies, interventions and therapies aimed at improving interactions and decreasing behavioral challenges
- Help access needed educational and community services and social supports that are tailored to a person with DS-ASD
- Help health and educational professionals better understand additional factors they need to consider during evaluation, treatment and in creation of educational goals and strategies that support the individuals learning needs
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Autism In Downs Syndrome: Presentation And Diagnosis
There is no one definitive way that autism presents in people with Down syndrome, and diagnosis can be difficult due to the overlap of symptoms with other conditions such as intellectual disability. However, common features of autism in people with Down syndrome include social and communication difficulties, repetitive behaviors, and restricted interests. Many people with Down syndrome also have sensory processing issues, which can further complicate diagnosis. Early diagnosis and intervention is important for people with Down syndrome and autism, as it can help improve outcomes and quality of life.
People with Downs syndrome frequently have autism, but it is more common in those who also show superimposed behavioral problems. A systematic study of these two associations, according to the authors, could have significant implications for research and clinical practice. Diagnosing autism in individuals with known genetic syndromes: clinical considerations and implications for intervention. P.H. Philofsky A., F.R.D., Rogers S., and L.H. Hepburn SL. Dystrophies of the dorsal spine are discovered in autism-related disorders. Klusek J, Estigarribia B, and Roberts JE, Martin GE,Klusek J,Esraginia B, and Roberts JE. Down syndrome individuals may communicate in a variety of languages.
Was Aspergers Linked With Nazism
Some prominent historians have argued that Hans Asperger was complicit in Hitlers regime of euthanasia in his bid to create a genetically fit German population.2 Psychiatrists and other physicians were involved in a Nazi programme that murdered children who were seen as either physically or mentally âinferiorâ or âundesirable.â Asperger, along with some of his colleagues, attempted to mould certain autistic children into âproductiveâ citizens. He was also responsible for sending others to the Spiegelgrund clinic, where they were starved or given lethal injections. Aspergerâs complicity in the death of neurodiverse children has fueled some calls to further abandon the Aspergerâs label, even in a colloquial sense.
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Autism In Down Syndrome Is Not Typical Autism
An increasing number of children with Down syndrome are being diagnosed as also having autism or autistic spectrum disorder . Research is exploring the prevalence and the characteristics of autism and autistic spectrum disorders in people with Down syndrome, and informing more reliable diagnosis. More research is needed to better understand these dual diagnoses and to identify effective ways to support development and learning for these children.
What Is The Difference Between Autistic And Down Syndrome
There is a lot of confusion about the difference between autistic and Down syndrome. Both are developmental disabilities, but they are different conditions. Down syndrome is a chromosomal condition that is present at birth. It occurs when a baby is born with an extra copy of chromosome 21. This extra chromosome results in a delay in the babys physical and mental development. Autism is a neurological disorder that affects a persons ability to communicate and interact with others. It is typically diagnosed in early childhood. Autism does not have a single cause, but it is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Down syndrome and autism are both lifelong developmental conditions that affect the body for the rest of a persons life. People with autism look at people, hear others, feel others feelings, and interact with them in an entirely different way. Down syndrome and trisomy 2 are the same thing. This genetic disorder is caused by a faulty third copy of chromosome 21. There is no known single cause of autism, and it is primarily caused by certain abnormalities in the brain. Down syndrome is caused by abnormal cell division on the 21 chromosome, resulting in a partial or full copy of the genetic material in the body. When the extra chromosome grows, it causes problems with the development of the brain and its physical features.
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How Is Autism Diagnosed
The diagnosis of autism or autistic spectrum disorder is usually made by a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist will use the diagnostic criteria set down in one of the two major diagnostic guides, the ICD 10 or the DSM IV in use in the USA. The psychiatrist may use clinical experience to make a diagnosis based on the ICD 10 or DSM IV criteria but increasingly one of two standard diagnostic tests will also be used. These are the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule and the Autism Diagnostic Interview . The use of these measures, for which specialised training is required, improves the reliability of diagnosis. However, a child may need to be seen in familiar environments at home and in nursery or school – not just in the clinic – to obtain a full picture of their behaviors and difficulties .
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.
Autism This 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
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Autism In Children With Down Syndrome: What Should You Do
If you believe that your child will benefit from an evaluation, you should begin a close observation of their behaviors. When speaking with the healthcare provider, be sure to ask if they have experience with diagnosis and therapy of autism among children with Down syndrome.
It is also crucial that you remain informed as the primary caregiver. Here’s what you can do to ensure that â
Getting a correct formal diagnosis can help your child receive the proper school and services they need for a better quality of life.
Help Your Child To Develop
Although it may take extra time for your child to learn and master skills, you may be surprised at how much he or she will be able to do. With encouragement, your child can learn important skills. You can help your baby learn to walk, talk, or eat by himself. You can help your child make friends and do well in school. Later you can help him or her learn job skills and maybe live independently.
To learn how to help your child throughout life, see Home Treatment.
- 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.
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Autism Vs Down Syndrome: What Should Parents Know
In the last few years, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of children with Down syndrome who are also being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder . Children who have autism, as well as Down syndrome, have a dual diagnosis. They have two co-existing conditions.
Earlier, many experts and parents believed that children couldn’t have autism and Down syndrome together. This concept is gradually becoming dated with the continuous publication of longitudinal research on the behavior and affects of children with Down syndrome and ASD.
As of 2021, psychiatrists diagnose approximately 1 in 44 children in the US with Autism Spectrum Disorder . Every year, around 6000 babies are born with Down Syndrome in the US. Experts working with children with Down syndrome and ASD report that approximately 18% to 20% of all children with Down syndrome also have autism.
It makes Autism Spectrum Disorder and Down syndrome equal opportunity conditions. These disorders can affect any child irrespective of their geographic location, race, and socioeconomic status. While both these conditions can be difficult to manage, a dual diagnosis poses a unique set of challenges for the parents.
While Autism Spectrum Disorder and Down syndrome are developmental conditions, they have different causes, symptoms, treatment, and management.
Down Syndrome Vs Autism: Differences And Similarities
Do you also use the terms down syndrome and autism alternately?
Despite having some similar symptoms, it is important to understand the difference between Down syndrome vs autism and learn about their differences and similarities.
Doctors have evaluated many children with down syndrome and autism and sometimes either of them. They have observed that every child has its own strength and weakness and different personality. If you are curious to know more about Down syndrome vs autism, stick to the end of the article then.
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What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder or autism is a complex developmental condition. Individuals with autism spectrum disorder face persistent challenges involving social communication, repetitive behavior, and limited interests. It is a lifelong condition, but the range of signs and symptoms can vary significantly between two individuals with ASD.
The diagnosis of ASD can only be made by a child psychiatrist or psychologist. Sometimes, the signs of autism become noticeable when a child is between 2 and 3 years old. In several cases, the social communication and functional deficits related to autism become more pronounced only after the child begins school.
Some of the typical social communication deficits may include â
- Less to no interest in sharing of interest with others
- Trouble appreciating their own emotions as well as othersâ emotions
- Difficulty in holding eye contact
- Difficulty in making friends
- Inability to grasp abstract ideas
Individuals with ASD may also have repetitive behaviors and restricted interests. These may include â
- Extreme difficulty in coping with change may even lead to outbursts
- Intense focus on topics and subjects that may not intrigue their neurotypical peers
- Hypersensitivity to loud noises, bright lights, or changes in temperature
- Inability to accept changes to routines or new experiences
- Stimming or repetitive movements like hand flapping or rocking back-and-forth
- Organizing things in a particular fixed manner
Collecting Data For Your Healthcare Team
The DSAGC hears from parents frequently about concerns that their loved one may have more going on than just Down syndrome like autism followed by questions regarding how to go about getting a formal assessment. We encourage all to collect and organize concerns about their loved one and talk openly with their healthcare team. It always helps to have someone who is familiar with co-occurring diagnoses to be part of that conversation, as a co-occurring diagnosis of ASD can be challenging since many of the characteristics are common to both conditions- particularly in the area of communication and behavior. CCHMC DDBP have psychologists that are familiar with how ASD may present itself in a person who also has Down syndrome.
Here is an informative video by an SLP at the Down Syndrome Resource Foundation to help better clarify how these two diagnoses may coexist.
Before you bring your thoughts to the team, reflect on these common characteristics. It can also be beneficial to ask your loved ones other caregivers or school team to give their input. The more of these you may be experiencing across all settings and consistently the more important it is to relay to the healthcare team.
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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.
Clinical Research: Down Syndrome Autism Often Coexist
Regression risk: Children who have both autism and Down syndrome are more likely to lose language and other skills than children who have Down syndrome alone.
Nearly 40 percent of people with Down syndrome also meet the criteria for an autism spectrum disorder, suggests a U.K. study of nearly 500 children, published in Autism Research1.
The study found that 38 percent of children with Down syndrome meet a screening test cutoff for either classic autism or another pervasive development disorder on the autism spectrum.
In keeping with the elevated prevalence of autism in males, the study shows that boys with Down syndrome are significantly more likely to meet the criteria for an autism spectrum disorder than girls with Down syndrome.
The study assessed whether children show signs of autism by asking their caregivers to fill out the SocialCommunication Questionnaire , which consists of yes-or-no questions about social and communicative deficits and repetitive and restricted behaviors.
The researchers note that the SCQ does not provide a clinical diagnosis. For example, using the SCQ and an additional questionnaire, a 2010 study initially estimated that 42 percent of children with Down syndrome have an autism spectrum disorder. However, after assessing some participants using more rigorous in-person tests, it downgraded the estimate to 18 percent2.
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Why Do Down Syndrome Babies Have To Wear A Helmet
Also called a cranial orthotic, helmet therapy is a type of treatment prescribed for infants to help correct an abnormal skull shape. About 75 percent of brain growth happens by age 2. To accommodate such rapid development, a babys skull is made up of soft plates that gradually harden and grow together.
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