LD Network

Is Down’s Syndrome a Learning Disability?

A person with Down’s syndrome will have a level of learning disability, although this will vary for each person. People with Down’s syndrome are able to live a rich and full life in their community.

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Children with Down syndrome will generally learn and progress slower than other children. Typically, motor development will be slower and difficulty with motor control can also impact language development. Expressive language will often be more difficult for children with Down syndrome.

Another area of development that can be affected is number skills, so as people with Down syndrome get older, they may need some support worker assistance with doing tasks that involve mathematical calculations, such as buying groceries or paying bills, for example.

Some people with Down syndrome find verbal short-term memory is not as good as their visual short-term memory, which can hold them back when learning new words or putting sentences together. Again, this will vary from one individual to the next, as ability is affected in different ways.

What is Down syndrome?

Down's syndrome learning disability

Down syndrome is the name given to a person who has an extra chromosome and this affects development and physical features. Around 1 in 700 children have Down syndrome, and it is the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability.

During pregnancy the parents will be offered a test at around 15-22 weeks to screen for Down syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome and Patau’s syndrome and if the test shows that there is a high possibility of there being a condition, further tests would usually be offered.

People with Down syndrome will usually have other health condition, including heart condition or issues with hearing and vision. Down syndrome is a lifelong condition that cannot be cured, although the sooner the condition is identified, the quicker support can be provided that can enable the person to live as full a life as possible.

Some people with Down syndrome will require a high level of support, while others can live a very independent life. Another condition that people with Down syndrome will often have is Hypotonia which is poor muscle tone and as a result, weaker strength. This can mean that they struggle with physical activities as a consequence.

Babies with Down syndrome can struggle to feed properly due to a combination of poor muscle tone and because they tend to stick their tongue out, so parents will need to monitor their feeding and may need to give them nutritional supplements to ensure they are getting all of the nutrients they need.

What causes Down Syndrome?

It is very rare for Down syndrome to be inherited and it will usually happen by chance at conception. In some cases, life expectancy can be shortened but now there is more support available and more research, there are more opportunities for overcoming challenges associated with Down syndrome.