Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Down Syndrome (DS)
Have you noticed that your child with Down syndrome (DS) behaves differently than other children with this diagnosis? If his/her development seems to be lagging, play skills are limited, social interactions are difficult, and communications (verbal and nonverbal) are slow to emerge, you may have reasons for concern. While any of these issues can occur in isolation, when you observe several of them together, it may indicate autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which occurs with DS in approximately 10 percent of the DS population.
A developmental pediatrician is best qualified to make a diagnosis of ASD. The physicians at a DS clinic can assess your child and make local referrals if necessary. Several centers convenient to the Philadelphia area include:
- Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Trisomy 21 Clinic (Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics), Philadelphia, PA (215-590-7500)
- Eastern Pennsylvania Down Syndrome Center, Trexlertown, PA (610-402-0184)
- Down Syndrome Program at Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington, DE (302-651-5916)
- Kennedy-Krieger Institute’s Down Syndrome Clinic, Baltimore, MD (443-923-9200)
- The Center for Autism (Provides evaluations and treatment programs at two locations in the Philadelphia area), Philadelphia, PA (215-878-3400)
If your child does receive a dual diagnosis of ASD, you will be advised on what additional strategies you can apply to maximize your child’s development. He/she may qualify for services beyond those available for DS alone.
The MCDSIG has a private subgroup on Facebook devoted to the dual diagnosis as well. You can request to be a member of this subgroup to make local social connections, seek/share information and post questions. The group meets monthly for discussion. Contact MCDSIG for more information.