People with Down ‘never stop learning’, US-Dutch research shows

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People with Down syndrome never stop learning and continue to acquire functional skills well into adulthood, according to a new mass study by US and Dutch researchers.

The research is based on the experiences of more than 2,600 families in the US and the Netherlands and coordinated by researchers from the Dutch Down Syndrome Foundation and the Massachussetts General Hospital.

‘Contrary to some public beliefs, people with Down syndrome never stop learning, and functional skills can still be attained and improved well into adulthood,’ director of the programme Brian Skotko told the Harvard Gazette.




The results in both the US – based on questionnaires in 2008 and 2009 – and the Netherlands (questionnaire in 2016) were broadly similar. They indicated that most people with Down syndrome could walk by 25 months of age, speak reasonably well by age 12, maintain personal hygiene by 13, and work independently by 20.

By the age of 31, 49% were reading reasonably well, 46%  could write reasonably well, 34% were living independently, and around 30% could travel independently.

‘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.


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