(photo credit to The Down Syndrome/Autism Connection)
As most of you know, Sunshine has down syndrome and autism. Autism definitely adds some differences and challenges to down syndrome. I wanted to cover some of those in a post during this month of 31 for 21 posts.
Down syndrome and autism together is considered a "dual diagnosis" and it is often written as DS/ASD (down syndrome/autism spectrum disorder) for the sake of simplicity. I use the abbreviation frequently on message boards and facebook groups but try not to do it too much here since I know most of you won't be familiar with it. Now you know, though, so I may throw it in a bit more often here. :)
The idea of down syndrome and autism occurring together is a relatively knew concept. For many years professionals insisted that they could not be diagnosed in the same person. Instead, those with what looked like autistic characteristics were just considered to have a more significant cognitive impairment. However, that has been found to be untrue. Recently the occurrence of down syndrome with autism has been more thoroughly studied and the results show that not only can autism occur in someone with down syndrome, those with down syndrome are actually even more prone to this diagnosis than those in the general population. It is estimated that 10-15% of people with DS also have ASD, though many remain undiagnosed.
Professionals and Articles
The leading professional in the area of DS/ASD, in addition to other issues pertaining to kids with down syndrome is Dr George Capone, the director of the Down Syndrome Clinic at Kennedy Krieger. I have heard Dr Capone speak and also know a number of parents whose children are seen by him. If you are interested in learning more about this issue, definitely look for anything written by Dr Capone. Also, if you have plans to go to a National Down Syndrome Congress Convention, watch for his lectures - he is an excellent speaker who really knows his material and is great about relating to parents too.
Here are also some articles that I've found helpful about DS/ASD:
by Heidi Splete from the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research
by Pamela Wilson (this article has lots of links to other articles, support groups, etc)
by Faith Brynie
by Sue Buckley
by Dr George Capone (this article can be helpful if you are wondering if your child has DS/ASD)