Study Pinpoints Down Syndrome Milestones
Individuals with Down syndrome continue to learn new skills well into adulthood, according to a study that’s offering a timetable of what to expect from those with the chromosomal disorder.
Most people with Down syndrome are able to walk by 25 months of age, speak reasonably well by the time they’re 12 years old and manage their own hygiene by age 13, according to findings published online recently in the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A.
The research is based on a survey of more than 2,600 parents of those with Down syndrome — including young children all the way up to adults in their 40s — in the United States and the Netherlands.
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Moms and dad who participated were asked about their children’s skills in 11 areas: walking, eating, speaking, grooming/personal hygiene, reading, writing, preparing meals, working at a job, going on dates, traveling and living independently.
The study found that the majority of those with Down syndrome can work independently by age 20. Meanwhile, roughly half can read and write reasonably well by age 31. And, about a third live independently by that point.
“Contrary to some public beliefs, people with Down syndrome never stop learning, and functional skills can still be attained and improved well into adulthood,” according to Brian Skotko, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Down Syndrome Program and a senior author of the study.
“Now we have guideposts — based on the responses of thousands of parents — that can help clinicians know when children may be falling behind their peers with Down syndrome and, when necessary, refer parents to additional supports, resources and therapies,” Skotko said.