Misconceptions About Autism and Down Syndrome

Autism and Down Syndrome are both complex, but very different conditions. Unfortunately, many people either confuse the two of them, or lump the ways they manifest themselves together. While they are both considered intellectual disabilities, there are some important distinctions that can be made with simple explanations.

Autism Defined

The term “autism” covers a spectrum of mental and physical characteristics that impact a person’s social and physical behaviors. Its cause is not specifically known. Its symptoms have a wide range from mild social irregularities to full non-verbal behavior. Many resources are available at a school for autistic children Toledo Oh to help young people with an autism diagnosis.

Down Syndrome Defined

Down Syndrome is a chromosomal abnormality where a person is born with an extra 21st chromosome. While Down Syndrome also has a broad range of physical symptoms, most people with a DS diagnosis have hypotonia, (or low muscle tone) and intellectual challenges requiring special education and therapies. Some may have heart defects and lung issues. It is important to note that these are not conditions that are acquired or can be “caught.” They also cannot be “cured.”

Treatments and Therapies

Though neither of these are curable conditions, people with autism and down syndrome can live very full lives and can be helped greatly with treatments and therapies. Early intervention and diagnosis are extremely important. More severe physical conditions must be treated immediately, but less extreme symptoms can be dealt with (and sometimes corrected) in early childhood. Speech and physical therapy can help people with both autism and down syndrome with verbal, social, and physical skills. Special education programs and integrated classrooms have made great advancements in teaching as well as acceptance. Medically speaking, in the past thirty years, life expectancy for people with down syndrome has nearly doubled to 60!

Having a basic knowledge of these conditions helps to understand people who have them, families that are impacted by them, and what society can do to raise awareness and promote acceptance.