Types of Down Syndrome, Learning Strategies and Depression in People with Down Syndrome

Types of Down Syndrome

The first and most common type of Down Syndrome is Trisomy 21, 95% of people with Down syndrome have this.

Trisomy 21 is caused by a failure of the sperm to separate properly. This is a result of having three 21st chromosomes instead of having two.  This is caused by a random error and not inherited by the parents.

Translocation is another type which only affects 3% to 4% of people with Down Syndrome. Translocation is caused when there are three 21st chromosomes and the third one attaches to another chromosome. The extra chromosome doesn’t always attach to the 21st chromosome but, it can also attach to another chromosome for example 14, 13 or 22 which causes the characteristics of Down Syndrome.

This type of Down Syndrome may or may not be inherited by one of the parents. If their father is carrying the Translocation gene there is only a 3% chance the child will develop Down Syndrome. If the mother is the carrier of the gene there is 10 to 15% chance the child will develop Down Syndrome. (Mayo Clinic, 2014) This gene runs in the family and is able to skip up to five generations before showing up again.

The third type is Mosaic Down Syndrome, this type is very rare, only 1 to 2% of all cases of people with Down Syndrome this type. Mosaic Down Syndrome happens when some cells have 26 chromosomes and others have 27. People with Mosaic Down Syndrome can have an IQ score that is 10-30 points higher than someone with Trisomy 21 Down Syndrome.

People with Mosaic Down Syndrome may not develop the facial features as the other types of Down Syndrome.

In all types of Down Syndrome, there is a 21st chromosome in all or some of the cells (Brown, I. & Percy, M., 2011. Developmental Disabilities: in Ontario, 3rd Edition).

Karen Gaffnee: “I have one more chromosome than you, so what?”

Karen is President of a non-profit organization dedicated to championing the journey to full inclusion in families, schools, the workplace, and the community for people with developmental disabilities.

She graduated from St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, Oregon, after earning an Associate of Science degree.

Karen has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Portland in 2013, for her work in raising awareness about the abilities of people with Down Syndrome.

Karen is a fearless open-water swimmer having successfully swam the English Channel, escaped Alcatraz (16 times) and conquered Lake Tahoe in 59-degree water.

Karen swims to raise funds to increase awareness of the abilities of people with Down syndrome. She has swam the English Channel and ‘escaped Alcatraz sixteen times’.

Visit the Karen Gaffney Foundation website at: www.karengaffneyfoundation.com/

Down Syndrome Association of Peterborough

Down Syndrome Association of Peterborough

Learning Strategies for People with Down Syndrome

Children with Down Syndrome need to be taught with visual supports such as pictures and signs. Some of the ways that people with Down Syndrome can learn visually is by using pictures in schedules, having colours on important words, videos, and drama.

They struggle processing verbal information and information in the short-term memory. This makes it difficult for them to learn new words and sentences.

For a child with Down Syndrome it will take them up to three weeks, three times per day to master a skill. This is caused by working the skill into their long term memory, which is very strong for people with Down Syndrome.

They are interested in many things and can tell you all about them. By incorporating their interest in other learning areas it will help them to memorize and learn new material. For example, if a person with Down Syndrome is interested in animals, you can teach them how to spell animal names and locations of where the animals live. This broadens the child’s intelligence and makes them more interested in what is being taught.

Staying on a daily routine can help people with Down Syndrome to understand what is going to happen next and helps to eliminate questions. This can cause the child to stay on task and help them focus on one thing at a time.

Having one on one time with a teacher can benefit the student.

Students with Down Syndrome can also benefit from smaller class sizes.

Most children with Down Syndrome tend to hang around with people that have disabilities. By being in a class with other children who have disabilities, it helps them feel like they fit in. They will not be as worried about getting something wrong and are more comfortable in this type of class setting (Down Syndrome Association of Peterborough, 2015).

Down Syndrome and Depression

For most people the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about people with Down Syndrome is their happy smiles. It may be hard for society to believe that people with Down Syndrome are more likely to be diagnosed with depression than people without Down Syndrome.

Recently there has been an increase in dual diagnoses with people who have Down Syndrome. Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses that is diagnosed for people who also have Down Syndrome. Women with Down Syndrome are more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men.

​People of all ages, who have Down Syndrome and Depression, commonly talk to themselves and have imaginary friends.  This allows them to express their emotions and vent about the problem or situation they’re in. This can also help them to process what has just happened. Going over the situation in their head or out loud can help them react in the correct way, which may take them some time to work out.

It may be hard for a person with Down Syndrome and Depression to tell you they need a break or that they do not want to do something. People with Down Syndrome tend to want to make others happy which can cause them to do things that they really do not want to do (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2016), which can increase depression.

If you would like more information on this or any other program The Sheltering Tree offers please contact the main office at 705-743-5689 or office@shelteringtree.ca

The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.

Jimmy Johnson