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

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Everything You Need to Know Before Buying a Weighted Blanket

Published by: Forbes Magazine

It seems like every category of bedding is getting an upgrade these days, whether it’s in the form of memory foam mattresses or custom pillows.

Chances are you’ve heard friends or family discussing these new product types, or maybe even saw someone receive one as a gift this past holiday season. But while weighted blankets have exploded in popularity in recent years, this innovative product isn’t necessarily new — it’s long been used in the special needs community, helping individuals on the autism spectrum, among others. Still, it wasn’t until companies like Gravity Blanket brought their flagship designs to the broader public that people began thinking of it not as a niche medical device, but a general sleep aid for the wider community.

Want to learn what all the hype is about? Here’s everything you need to know about weighted blankets, from their many benefits to how you can find one that perfectly complements your style of sleeping. Click here to read the rest of the story.

Inside Dollywood’s ‘Incredible’ Calming Room for Children with Autism

Publisher: Yahoo News
Written by:Rachel DeSantis

A day at the Dollywood Family Amusement Park is filled with enough sights, sounds and colors to overstimulate anyone ⁠— especially those with autism.

That’s why Dollywood safety manager Judy Toth, who noticed an influx of families with children on the spectrum at the Tennessee park, decided to take action to help make their trip all the more memorable.

The result? A first-of-its-kind calming room that serves as a refuge of sorts for families seeking a break from the non-stop hustle and bustle of the 150-acre theme park.

“[It’s] sensory overload when you come to a theme park,” Toth tells PEOPLE. “And I couldn’t quite grasp at the beginning, you know, why are they coming? Knowing that something could potentially trigger their child. But realistically, it was just that they want their child to do what any other child does.”

The calming room first opened in the spring of 2016 after Toth observed that families with children on the spectrum were having to either end their trip early or slip someplace quieter, like a bathroom or a first-aid tent. Click here to read the rest of the story

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Published by: Speaking of Autism

I want you to imagine that you are a kid once again, maybe ten or eleven years old. You are sitting down in the evening with your family for dinner. The table is set, and your parents bring out what will be tonight’s entree: a cut of cold, raw chicken breast. It’s slimy pink mass slides onto the plate in front of you, and soon after your whole family is chowing down on the raw cuts of meat. You can’t stand to even watch anyone else eat the raw chicken, let alone fathom yourself choking it down. Yet, despite the very real disgust and aversion you feel towards the raw chicken breast, somehow it’s you who are strange for not wanting to eat it. Maybe you’re called “picky” or told that you simply need to and just learn to enjoy raw chicken like everyone else. Maybe you go hungry every night at dinner because the only thing being served are items as aversive as the cuts of raw chicken. Click here to read the rest of the story.