Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children with Down Syndrome

Signs and symptoms of Down syndrome is fairly easy to detect especially since there are specific physical characteristics of the disorder. But what if there is also a diagnosis of autism?

Studies show that 5 to 39% of children with Down syndrome are also on the autism spectrum. There are overlaps in some of the symptoms which delays the signs and symptoms of autism. This observation is slowly growing and informing parents and educators  to observe for specific signs and symptoms.

It is possible that educators and therapist may be the first to notice that children with Down syndrome also display characteristics that are similar to autism.

Why is it important?

According to authors Margaret Froehlke and Robin Zaborek from the book, When Down Syndrome and Autism Intersect, The education approach in both Down syndrome and autism will be different than for children with a single diagnosis of Down syndrome including accommodations and writing the IEP. Teaching strategies will also differ. Teaching a student with Down syndrome who require tactile demonstrations, simple directions, and immediate feedback will now require concrete language, social stories, the use of few choices and the use of concrete language.

The importance of getting the diagnosis
Most often children with Down syndrome are treated for the characteristics of having Down syndrome which overlooks giving children the appropriate treatment for Autism such as social skills and sensory issues. A child or young adult with both diagnosis will likely experience aggressive behaviors, meltdowns, and show signs of regression during their early development. The following are signs and symptoms to look for in your child, or student:
  • Hand flapping
  • Picky eater
  • Echolalia
  • Fascination with lights
  • Staring at ceiling fans
  • History of regression
  • Head banging
  • Strange vocalization
  • Anxiety
  • Seizure Disorder

Signs of overlap include:

As the student gets older, there may be ongoing issues with sensory disorders and transitions leading to meltdowns

Additional Resources:

Autism and Meltdown Resources

Printable Down Syndrome Fact Sheet

 

Reference

When Down Syndrome and Autism Intersect: A Guide to DS-ASD for
Parents and Professionals

By Margaret Froehlke, R. N. & Robin Zaborek, Woodbine House, 218 pp.

Updated 1/12/2021

Autistic children may have to mute own perspective to grasp others’

Published by: Spectrum News
Written by: Barhar Gholipour

To understand another person’s point of view, children with autism need to actively suppress their own, a new study suggests1.

People with autism struggle with theory of mind — the ability to guess others’ thoughts and feelings. This may contribute to their social difficulties. The new work hints at the brain processes that underlie their difficulty.

The researchers used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to monitor brain activity in autistic and typical children, aged 8 to 12 years, as they performed a version of a classic theory-of-mind test. This test involves inferring someone else’s knowledge about the location of an object.

Typical children generally pass this test by the time they are 5. Most children with autism don’t pass until their teens, but those with high intelligence and strong language skills may figure it out sooner.

The autistic children in the new study perform the task as well as their typical peers do, but their brain activity differs: Unlike typical children, those with autism heavily recruit an area involved in inhibiting brain activity.  Click here to read the rest of the story

2021 Special Needs Awareness Observance Calendar

Download printable here: 2021 Special Needs Awareness Observance Calendar 
Did you know that 1 in 6 or 15% of  children aged 3 through 17 have one or more developmental disabilities? Or that according to the World Health Organization (WHO) that over a billion people live with some form of disability? This means that nearly 1 in 7 people on Earth have some form of a disability. For this reason, disability awareness and acceptance is more important now than ever before.

What is the Purpose of Disability Awareness?

Disability awareness serves many purposes including informing and educating people on a certain cause.  In some cases organizations and agencies use it as part of their annual campaign in an effort to bring awareness and raise money for their cause. Employers often conduct trainings on disability awareness as an effort to educate employees and to decrease bullying in the workplace. Disability awareness also can be used to address myths, misconceptions and the realities of having a disability.  Ribbons are also used that are specific to awareness activities. Through disability awareness campaigns it is hoped that people learn and develop a greater understanding of those with a disability. Annual awareness observances are sponsored by federal, health and non-profit organizations. In some cases observances are worldwide including World Autism Awareness Day or World Cerebral Palsy Day.

Types of Awareness Campaigns

Awareness campaigns fall under three categories:

  • Day- this is often held on the same day each year regardless of the day it falls under. There are cases where an awareness day falls on a specific day such as the last Thursday of a month.
  • Week – The dates dates change and vary based on the week. In some cases, awareness activities are held on the first week of the month to the fourth week of the month
  • Month- activities and awareness celebrations are held throughout the month.
The 2021 calendar includes major special needs awareness days, weeks, and months. Most websites include awareness toolkits, promotional material and fact sheets. This page focuses on awareness activities that impact people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Click on the month below to go to a specific month.
January /February/March/ April/ May/June/July/September/October/November/December

January     

Louis Braille

                                             

January (Month)

National Birth  Defects Month

January 4- World Braille Day

January 20- International Day of Acceptance

January 24- Moebius Syndrome Awareness Day

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February

February (Month)

Turner Syndrome Awareness Month

February (Week)

February 7-14 Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week

February 8-12 Feeding Tube Awareness

February (Day)

February 15- International Angelman Day

February 28- Rare Disease Day

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March

March (Month)

Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Kidney Awareness Month

Multiple Sclerosis Month

Social Work Awareness Month

Trisomy Awareness Month

March (Week)

March 21-27- Poison Prevention Week

March (Day)

March 1- Self-Injury Day

March 1- International Wheelchair Day

March 21- World Down Syndrome Day

March 26- Purple Day for Epilepsy

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April

April (Day)

April 2- World Autism Awareness Day 

April 7- Paraprofessional Appreciation Day

May

Better Hearing and Speech Month

Ehlers-Danlos Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month

National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month

National Mobility Awareness Month

Prader Willi Syndrome Awareness Month

Williams Syndrome Awareness Month

May (Week)

May 5-12- Cri du Chat Awareness Week

May (Day)

May 1- Global Developmental Delay Day

May 5- World Asthma Day

May 14- Apraxia Awareness Day

May 19- National Schizencephaly Awareness Day

May 15- Tuberous Sclerosis Global Awareness Day

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June

June (Month)

Aphasia Awareness Month

Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month

June (Week)

Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week (Last Sunday in June)

June (Day)

June 7- Tourette Syndrome Awareness Day

June 17- CDKL5 Awareness Day 

June 23- Dravet Syndrome Awareness Day (Canada)

 

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July

July (Month)

National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month

National Fragile X Syndrome Awareness Month

July (Day)

July 18- Disability Awareness Day (UK)

July 22- National Fragile X Syndrome Awareness Day

July 26- American Disability Act Day

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September

September (Month)

Chiari Awareness Month

Craniofacial Acceptance Month

Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) Awareness Month

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Awareness

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Syndrome Awareness Month

Hydrocephalus Awareness Month

National Spinal Cord Awareness Month

Sickle Cell Awareness Month

Sepsis Awareness Month

September 7- World Duchenne Awareness Day

September 9- Fetal Alcohol Awareness Day

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October

ADHD Awareness Month

Disability History Month

Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Dysautonomia Awareness

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Dyslexia Awareness Month

Occupational Therapy Awareness Month

October (Day)

October 6- World Cerebral Palsy Day

October 15- White Cane Awareness Day

October (Week)

October 13-19 Invisible Disabilities Week

Rett Syndrome Awareness Month

Spinal Bifida Awareness Month

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November

22q Awareness Month

Epilepsy Awareness Month

November 1- LGS Awareness Day

November 7- National Stress Awareness Day

November 15- World Ohtahara Syndrome Awareness Day

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December

December 3- International Day of Persons with Disabilities

December 1-7- Infantile Spasm

Updated 1/5/2021

What is 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome?

22q11.2 deletion syndrome, is a rare disorder that is caused by a deletion in chromosome 22 located specifically in the middle of the chromosome in the area referred to as 22q11.2. This syndromes affects 1 out of 4000 people and signs and symptoms include, developmental delays, poor muscle tone, learning development, feeding issues and hearing loss.

Similar Names

  • Cayer Cardiofacial Syndrome
  • Conotruncal Anomaly Face Syndrome(CTAF)
  • DiGeorge Syndrome (DGS)
  • Microdeletion 22q11.2
  • Monosomy 22q.11
  • Opitz G/BBB Syndrome
  • Sedlackova Syndrome
  • Shprintzen Syndrome
  • Takao Syndrome
  • Velo-Cardio-Facial Syndrome (VCFS)

History

  • 1955- First appear in medical literature by Dr. Eva Sedlackova who described a number of cases of children with hypernasal speech and reduced facial animations.
  • 1965- Dr. Angelo DiGeorge described congenital absence of the thymus gland in 4 patients.
  • 1968- Dr William Strong reported an association of cardiac abnormalities.
  • 1981- Dr. Shimizu of Japan noticed similarities between patients diagnosed with CTAF and DiGeorge Syndrome
  • 1982- Dr’s Richard Kelley, Elaine Zacker and Beverly Emanuel at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia discovered that some patients had a rearrangement of chromosome 22 thus causing a piece of the long arm (q11.2) to be missing

Associated Conditions

  • cardiac anomalies
  • cleft palate
  • kidney abnormalities
  • language delays
  • learning challenges
  • developmental delays
  • feeding disorders
  • autism
  • ADHD
Learning Challenges Include:
  • Poor Working and short term memory
  • Difficulty with math reasoning
  • Difficulty with reading comprehension
  • Fine motor and perceptional skills

Instructional Teaching Strategies:

Attention Skills Strategies

Spring Fine Motor Activities

Updated 1/7/2021

 

 

What is Cri Du Chat Syndrome?

Cri-Du Chat, French for cry of the cat is a rare genetic disorder that occurs when there is a total or short deletion in the short arm of Chromosome 5. This portion of the chromosome is responsible for intellectual disability while the region of 5p15.3 is associated with speech delays and the high-pitched cat cry.  The high pitch cry is similar to the sound of a cat mewing which generally disappears after a few months or years in some cases. It is believed this is due to laryngeal alterations.

Although cri du chat is a rare syndrome, it is considered one of the most common syndromes in children and adults. There is an incidence of 1 in 50,000 live births and affects all ethnic and racial backgrounds.

Signs and Symptoms

Physical signs and symptoms include:

  • microcephaly
  • large nasal bridge
  • down-turned corners of the month
  • low-set ears

Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Intellectual disability
  • Hypertonia
  • Global and developmental delays
  • Speech and communication delays
  • Behavior challenges
  • Hypersensitivity.

Early Development

Studies show that in early development, during the first two years, children display issues with dysphasia, muscle hypotonia, and gastroesophageal and nasal reflux. Other early issues include recurrent respiratory infections and psychomotor issues.

Intellectual Disability

An intellectual disability is defined by the ICD-9 as a disorder with onset during the development period including both intellectual and adaptive functioning deficits. People with cri du chat typically fall under the moderate and severe range requiring personal care involving eating, dressing, and hygiene as well as self-care and monitored for self-injury.

Behavior Challenges

Behavior challenges among children and adults with cri du chat include aggressive and self-injurious behavior as well as hyperactivity. A study conducted by Cornish and Pigram (1996) found that there was one characteristics that occurred in more than 75% of the group and none characteristics that occurred in more than 50% of the group including hypersensitivity, to sensory stimuli, self0injurious behavior, repetitive movements, stubbornness and object attachment.

Health sites and  that provide information on Cri Du Chat including symptoms, diagnoses, definition and prevalence.

  1. National Institute of Health
  2. Wikipedia
  3. National Human Genome Research Institute
  4. Learn Genetics
  5. Medscape.com

Organizations

  1. International Cri Du Chat
  2. Five P Minus Society

Updated 1/6/2021