Dual Diagnosis

16-18% of individuals with Down syndrome also have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Sometimes a diagnosis of autism 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 because:

If you think your child may have Autism Spectrum Disorder, share your concerns with your doctors, teachers and therapists. Early diagnosis and intervention can make a big difference.

The Dual Diagnosis - A Brief Overview

The Dual Diagnosis - An Thorough Overview

The Care Map for a Child with DS-ASD

Get Support and a free consultation with a parent specialist from the Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area

Build a Community of Support

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!  Check out their website here

Learn More about Autism in Children with Down syndrome

Educational Supports

Structured Home Teaching for kids with DS-ASD and their families

Recommendations from the Down Syndrome Medical Interest Group DS-ASD Taskforce

Recommendations for Providers


Recommendations for Parents and Caregivers


Practical Tips from Lived Experience

Blog: Down Syndrome with a Slice of Autism