In this article we will Cover Down’s Syndrome vs Autism. We will cover a Comparison of Down’s Syndrome and Autism. Dual Diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome and Autism. How to Design an individualized educational plan for Down’s Syndrome and Autism.
What is Down’s Syndrome
Down’s Syndrome (DS) is a chromosomal disorder in which a newborn has an extra copy of chromosome 21. The medical terminology used for it is Trisomy or Trisomy 21.
This extra chromosome turns out to be the cause of developmental changes and physical differences. They experience physical and intellectual disabilities.
Physical features of Down Syndrome (DS)
Mostly commonly physical features associated with DS are following
- Most of them have flattened faces, small hands and a tongue that sticks out of the mouth.
- Eyes are almond-shaped, and the neck is very short.
- Their ears are small and a tiny white spot on the iris is typically present.
- There is a single line across the palm.
It can be diagnosed through prenatal screening and after birth through genetic testing and direct observation as physical features are obvious. It is the most common genetic disorder.1 out of 1000 babies suffer from it every year.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological difference. There is a limitation in social communication and interaction. They find it difficult to develop and maintain a relationship. Maintaining back and forth communication and maintaining eye contact is again difficult for them.
Restricted and repetitive behaviors are obvious symptoms of autism. Repetitive speech or motion, insistence on following the same routine, fixated interests can be a symptom of autism.
They sometimes exhibit self-injurious and aggressive behavior. There is no known causes and treatment available for the disorder, but early interventions improve quality of life and make them more independent.
Comparison of Down syndrome and an Autism spectrum disorder
While comparing Down syndrome with autism we can say that the former is a genetic disorder and later is a neurological disorder. Down syndrome can be diagnosed in the womb, but autism can be diagnosed in the early years of life.
The cause of autism is not known to date, but the cause of the down syndrome is an abnormal presence of third chromosome 21. There are no physical features present in autism similar to down syndrome.
A person on the spectrum may suffer several forms of mental disabilities like sensory issues but a person with down syndrome suffers from mild to moderate mental disability.
An adult with DS is more independent and social than an adult with ASD. They enjoy good to excellent health and experiences less impairment in life. They can live with their parents with partial assistance.
They can read and write a few sentences. Sometimes they exhibit unusual behaviors like wandering or running off from home, short attention span, obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
There is some limitation despite being independent they are unable to do complicated work in a challenging environment.
Dual diagnosis DS-ASD
In some rare cases DS–ASD can be seen together the percentage of such cases is 5-7%. Regression of language starts at 3-4 years and the diagnosis of such cases is late between 6-8 years.
As early childhood interventions are helpful in autism but mostly in DS-ASD, these interventions cannot be started at an early stage of life.
If a DS child presents any of these traits’ parents should closely observe the child and should go for formal assessment.
- Repetitive behaviors
- Extreme fixation to rotating or spinning objects
- Hands flapping
- Poor receptive language (looks as they are not listening)
- Spoken language (repeated, loud monologue)
- Refusal to food
Parents of DS children observe regression in speech and social interaction. It can be a red flag for them. They should seek professional assessment help. A child who is formally diagnosed is eligible for services and interventions. If the child is with a dual diagnosis of DS-ASD then therapeutic interventions like sensory integration, visual communication, and discrete trial training play an important role in improving quality of life.
Diagnosing of DS-ASD
Diagnosing of DS-ASD is difficult. DS–ASD is a complex disorder and needs a team of experts for diagnosing it. The pattern of symptoms in which a child with a dual diagnosis exhibit is quite different from a child with autism.
Sometimes autistic behavior misunderstood and considered due to intellectual impairment, a medical or psychological problem. Parents should observe closely if a child is showing discrepancy with other children having down syndrome.
The benefit of a child getting a dual diagnosis early is that he will be eligible for effective, therapeutic intervention like speech, behavior, sensory that will address Down syndrome and ASD.
Designing an IEP for DS-ASD
Designing an individualized educational plan (IEP) for a child with DS-ASD will be a technical and difficult task. Both are distinguished groups and different approaches and interventions are being used.
Comorbidity changes behavior presentation and needs more expertise in behavior management. There is an acute need to develop evidence-based therapeutic interventions for meeting the special needs of DS-ASD.
Parents should work together with special educationists, therapists, and teachers for designing an IEP. The main focus should be on a child’s strengths and weaknesses.
IEP should be modified according to his strengths and weaknesses. Schools should provide interventions according to the child’s needs rather than what they can afford. These therapeutic interventions are being used.
Therapeutic Interventions For DS-ASD
- Early intervention
- Applied behavior analysis
- Discrete trial training
- Visual schedules
- Academic and functional goals
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
- Physical therapy
- Group therapy
DS-ASD presents additional challenges and leads to complexities in life as the parents started feeling more stressed when they observe that other children with Down syndrome are doing far better than their child and mostly parents withdraw from the support groups.
They started self-blaming that our child is not doing good like others because of bad parenting. They need extra emotional support and motivation.
Parents should take good care of themselves and their families. Keeping a balance is very important and they have a life and family to consider too.
There will be good or bad days but if parents can’t find a way to emotional regenerations they will be depressed. There are higher chances of anxiety, stress, sleeplessness, struggling marriages under these circumstances.
It is strongly recommended for parents to engage themselves in healthy activities and stay positive about this challenge of life. For dealing with a child with dual diagnosis parents need to empower themselves they have to fight two battles.
They should learn about autism beside down syndrome for better management of the child. They should work together with therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and pediatricians for his overall health wellbeing.
Prevention of Down’s Syndrome-Autism
Preventing DS-ASD is not possible but timely diagnosis and early intervention assist in management in a better way. The basic aim of parents should be making the child more independent and self-sufficient.
There is no cure or treatment available for down syndrome and autism, but problematic behavior can be reduced by medicine and healthy Diet such problematic behaviors are;
- Repetitive behaviors
- Self-injurious behaviors
Also read: How to Deal with Autism in Adults
In this article we covered Down’s Syndrome vs Autism, we can say that dealing with a child DS-ASD will be difficult but through love, care and acceptance, one can help the child in reaching his fullest potential. Labels are for jars not for individuals. When one judges someone based on his diagnosis, he missed out on his beauty, uniqueness, and abilities There are endless possibilities with sincere efforts, determination, and consistency a child can do wonders.
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