What is the difference between autism and Down syndrome? Both are neurodevelopmental disorders, but there are some key differences between the two.
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Autism spectrum disorder and Down syndrome are both neurodevelopmental disorders. They share some common features, such as delays in social and communication skills, but there are also important differences.
Down syndrome is caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21. This genetic change leads to distinctive facial features, low muscle tone, and short stature. People with Down syndrome also have an increased risk for certain medical problems, such as heart defects and hearing loss.
Autism spectrum disorder is a complex condition that has no single cause. While there may be a genetic component, it is also thought to be influenced by environmental factors. Autism affects a person’s ability to socialize and communicate effectively. It can also cause repetitive behaviors and narrow interests.
There is no cure for either disorder, but early diagnosis and intervention can make a big difference in the lives of people with Down syndrome or autism.
What is Autism?
Autism is a neurological and developmental disorder that begins in early childhood and lasts throughout a person’s life. It affects how a person acts and interacts with others, communicates, and learns. It is important to note that there is no one ‘type’ of autism, as it manifests itself in different ways in different people.
Some common characteristics of autism include difficulty with social interaction, repetitive behaviors, intense focus on certain interests or objects, and Sensory processing issues.
It is important to remember that everyone with autism is unique and will exhibit different symptoms to varying degrees. Some people with autism are fully verbal, while others are nonverbal; some have above-average intelligence, while others have intellectual disability. The spectrum of symptoms is broad, which is why it is classified as a ‘spectrum disorder.’
What is Down Syndrome?
Down syndrome is a genetic condition caused by the presence of an extra chromosome. People with Down syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21, which affects their physical and cognitive development.
Down syndrome is the most common form of Intellectual Disability (ID), and people with Down syndrome typically have lower than average IQ scores. They may also have some physical characteristics, such as a flat face and small stature.
However, people with Down syndrome are individuals, just like everyone else, and they can lead happy and fulfilling lives.
The Differences between Autism and Down Syndrome
Autism and Down syndrome are both neurological disorders that can cause disabilities in children. However, there are some key differences between the two disorders.
Down syndrome is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21 in a person’s DNA. This extra chromosome results in physical and intellectual disabilities. People with Down syndrome tend to have a lower than average IQ, and they may also have difficulty speaking and motor skills. Autism, on the other hand, is not caused by an extra chromosome. It is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People with autism tend to have difficulty with social interactions and communication. They may also behave in repetitive or restricted ways.
While there are some similarities between autism and Down syndrome, the two disorders are distinct from one another. It’s important to get a proper diagnosis from a medical professional if you think your child may have either disorder.
Causes of Autism
There are many possible causes of autism. It is likely that there is not just one cause, but rather that a combination of factors contributes to the development of autism. These may include:
-Biological factors, such as problems with the structure or function of the brain
-Problems during pregnancy, such as exposure to certain viruses or toxins
-Problems during childbirth, such as oxygen deprivation to the baby’s brain
-Genetic factors, such as a family history of autism or other mental disorders
-Environmental factors, such as exposure to heavy metals or pesticides
Causes of Down Syndrome
Down syndrome is caused when an individual has a third copy of chromosome 21. This extra chromosome results in the development of certain physical characteristics and mild to moderate cognitive delays. Down syndrome occurs in people of all races and economic backgrounds, and it is estimated that one in every 700 babies born in the United States has the condition.
There are three different types of Down syndrome, each corresponding to a different cause:
Trisomy 21: The most common type of Down syndrome, trisomy 21 occurs when an individual has three copies of chromosome 21 instead of the usual two copies. About 95% of all cases of Down syndrome are due to trisomy 21.
Translocation Down syndrome: Translocation Down syndrome occurs when part of chromosome 21 becomes attached (or translocated) to another chromosome before or during conception. This type of Down syndrome accounts for about 4% of all cases.
Mosaic Down syndrome: Mosaic Down syndrome is the least common type, occurring in only 1% of individuals with the condition. Individuals with mosaic Down syndrome have a mixture of cells, some with the usual two copies of chromosome 21 and some with three copies.
Symptoms of Autism
There is no one specific symptom of autism, but there are certain behaviors that are common in many people with autism. Some people with autism might:
– Not respond to their name by 12 months
– Avoid eye contact
– Prefer not to be held or cuddled
– Appear to be unaware when people speak to them, but respond to other sounds
– Have trouble understanding or using gestures, such as pointing or waving
– Have trouble understanding what other people are saying
-speak using single words or short phrases by 16 months and have difficulty combining words into sentences by 2 years
– Repeat the same words or phrases over and over
– Get upset by minor changes in routines or rituals
Symptoms of Down Syndrome
Down syndrome is a condition caused by the presence of an extra 21st chromosome. This results in a host of characteristic physical and mental symptoms. The most common physical symptoms include:
– Short stature
– Reduced muscle tone
-An upward slant to the eyes
-A small head circumference
-A flat facial profile
-Brushfield spots on the iris of the eye
Mental symptoms vary from person to person, but can include:
-Delayed speech and language skills
-Impaired intellectual functioning
-Poor motor skills
People with Down syndrome are also at increased risk for certain medical conditions, such as heart defects, respiratory problems, hearing loss, diabetes, and thyroid issues. There is no cure for Down syndrome, but early intervention programs can help improve skills and abilities.
Treatment for Autism
There is no medical difference between autism and Down syndrome. However, there are some behavioral differences. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects social skills, communication, and repetitive behaviors. Down syndrome is a chromosomal condition that can cause physical and intellectual delays.
There are different treatments for these two conditions. Autism is treated with behavioral therapy to help the person develop social and communication skills. Down syndrome cannot be cured, but treatment can help with some of the symptoms. Treatment may include physical therapy, speech therapy, and special education.
Treatment for Down Syndrome
There is no medical difference between autism and Down syndrome. However, people with Down syndrome may have some features of autism, such as problems with social interaction and communication.
There is no specific medical treatment for Down syndrome. However, early intervention programs that include speech and occupational therapy, as well as special education, can help children with Down syndrome develop to their fullest potential.
Janice is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked with and case managed children and youth with autism and other intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in home and residential setting since 2013.