Dual Diagnosis

At least 10% of individuals with Down syndrome also have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Sometimes ASD is overlooked or considered inappropriate for a child with Down syndrome due to cognitive impairment. For instance, if a child has a high degree of hyperactivity and impulsivity only the diagnosis of ADHD may be considered. Children with many repetitive behaviors may only be regarded as having stereotypy movement disorder (SMD), which is common in individuals with severe cognitive impairments.

Read more about presenting symptoms of ASD in people with DS here

Most parents agree that severe behavior problems are usually not easily fixed. Finding solutions for behavioral concerns is one reason families seek help from physicians and behavior specialists. It is important for professionals to consider the possibility of a dual-diagnosis (Down syndrome with a psychiatric condition such as ASD or OCD) because:

  1. It may be responsive to medication or behavioral treatment, and
  2. A formal diagnosis may entitle the child to more specialized and effective educational and intervention services.

If you think your child may have ASD disorder, share this before or during your evaluation. Don’t wait to see what might happen.

A great resource for information and parent support

DS ASD Connection

The Down Syndrome-Autism Connection™ is the only nonprofit organization dedicated solely to co-occurring Down syndrome and autism spectrum disorder (DS-ASD) in the United States.

The Connection was founded in 2007 in Denver as a collaborative project by parents and professionals seeing a great need to reach out to families and individuals affected by DS-ASD. Though they are headquartered in Colorado, they care deeply about your journey no matter where you live. In this age of accessible technology, they are able to support people from coast to coast, and even overseas. They are gathering a global community in support of those with DS-ASD.

If you are a parent wondering if your child (or adult child) may be affected by autism spectrum disorder, the DS-ASD connection wants you to know that you are not alone. Whether your child actually has a co-occurring diagnosis or not, we hope that you will find their website of great value as you search for answers and support. If you are a professional wanting to learn more, the DS-ASD connection is here for you, too!

Dr Capone at John Hopkins has led the research efforts on Down Syndrome and Autism

You can read information from the Kennedy Krieger Institute, where he works, here