Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD is more common in individuals
with Down syndrome than it is in the general population. Its often difficult
to detect and diagnose ADHD in this population, because many of the symptoms
of ADHD are also common in people with Down syndrome. Still, its important
to discuss any ADHD-related symptoms with the health care provider, including
excessive distractibility, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Standard medications
for ADHD are generally effective in children with Down syndrome, along with
behavioral intervention, appropriate supervision, and strategies such as activity
schedules and visual reminders.
Autism is diagnosed in 5-10%
of people with Down syndrome, compared to only 0.13% of the general population.
Once again, autism (or autistic spectrum disorder, as it is also called) can
be quite difficult to identify in children with Down syndrome. Autism involves
impairments across three areas: social interaction, communication, and behavior.
Down syndrome also impacts the childs development in these three areas,
making diagnosis tricky. Still, unusual behaviors, social interactions, or communication
issues should be discussed with the health care provider.
Once a diagnosis of autism
is made, nurses can be instrumental in obtaining behavioral services for the
child and family. When medications are used to treat the disorder, its
important to monitor both therapeutic effects and undesirable side effects.
Since youngsters with autism may require more supervision and direction from
parents, respite care for the family may be even more necessary than usual.
Although obsessions are
rare in individuals with Down syndrome, compulsive behaviors occur quite often.
Some compulsive behaviors, such as manipulating straws or stuffed animals, are
relatively harmless. Others, such as hair-pulling or continual hand-rubbing,
can cause damage to the hair or skin. Compulsive behaviors can also endanger
the child with Down syndrome or others in the environment, if they involve kitchen
appliances, tying rope, or other unsafe behaviors. Standard medications for
OCD have been used successfully in youngsters with Down syndrome.