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Down Syndrome is a set of physical and mental traits caused by a genetic difference that involves the addition of a chromosome before birth. Through a series of screenings and tests, Down syndrome can be detected before or after birth.

The likelihood having Down syndrome is around 1 in every 700 pregnancies. It is determined by many factors, but research suggests there is a higher risk if the mother delivers at over 35 years of age.

Children who have Down syndrome tend to have certain features, such as a flat face and a short neck. They also have some degree of intellectual disability. This varies from person to person, but in most cases it is mild to moderate.  Developmental delays in acquiring speech fine and gross motor abilities is common. A child may need speech therapy to help them gain expressive language.  A child may also require physical therapy and/or occupational therapy to develop fine and gross motor skills.  A child with Down Syndrome may experience problems with attention, a tendency to make poor judgments, and impulsive behavior.

Sometimes, there are general health problems that can affect organ systems or bodily functions. Around half of all people with Down syndrome have a congenital heart defect.  People with Down Syndrome may also be at higher risk of respiratory problems, hearing difficulties, Alzheimer's disease, childhood leukemia, epilepsy and thyroid conditions.

Down syndrome is a lifelong condition. People with Down syndrome can attend school and become active, working members of the community.  With care and support, children who have Down syndrome can grow up to have healthy, happy, productive lives.


Today, the majority of children with Down syndrome are educated in the regular classroom, alongside their peers without disabilities. This is in keeping with the inclusion movement of the last decade and the requirements of IDEA, which states that each school system must ensure that "special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily."

A child with Down Syndrome may be eligible for IDEA services under “Intellectual Disability (ID)” or “Speech Impairment (SI).” Down Syndrome is the child’s Medical Diagnosis; Intellectual Disability or Speech Impairment is his or her Disability Eligibility Category. 

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