Support Professionals and Students in the
Field of Developmental Disabilities

Journal on Developmental Disabilities

The Journal on Developmental Disabilities is a peer-reviewed journal with a growing regional and international readership.

Volume 18 Number 2 – IJDS Volume 1 Number 1 Special Joint Issue


Developing Numeracy in Young Adults with Down Syndrome: A Preliminary Investigation of Specific Teaching Strategies
Lorrraine Gaunt, Karen B. Moni, and Anne Jobling

This article reports the implementation of a specific teaching program (STP) to improve numeracy skills (place value) of a cohort of young adults with Down syndrome. The STP was based on a range of teaching strategies that research had shown were effective across various groups who have difficulties with numeracy learning. The participants were selected from a post school literacy program at the University of Queensland (Moni & Jobling, 2000). The twelve participants in the program were assessed using the Booker Profiles of Mathematics (Booker, 1995) and divided into three groups based on these profiles. The group chosen to participate in the STP showed the prerequisite skills in number recognition and counting needed to learn place value but had no prior knowledge of the concept. The other groups participated in a series of game sessions and did not receive the STP. The data comprised pre and post testing, field notes, classroom observations and family histories. The five participants in the STP showed improvements in their skill acquisition, including developing some understanding of place value. Our findings demonstrate that individuals with Down syndrome can learn basic numeracy concepts but due to the small sample size more research is required

The Impact of Verbal and Nonberbal Development on Executive Function in Down Syndrome and Williams Syndrome
Oriane Landry, Natalie Russo, Tammy Dawkins, Phlip D. Zelazo, and Jacob A. Burack

Using Vygotsky's verbal mediation framework, we hypothesised that verbal development would be more strongly associated with executive function than non-verbal development in populations with developmental disabilities with distinct verbal/non-verbal profiles. We used correlational analyses to explore the developmental relationship between verbal and non-verbal development and the executive function components of cognitive flexibility and working memory among persons with Down syndrome and those with Williams syndrome. We found that verbal development was uniquely correlated with cognitive flexibility and working memory in both groups. We conclude that verbal development is a better predictor of both cognitive flexibility and working memory independent of non-verbal development in persons with Down syndrome and Williams syndrome.



A Study of Nigerian Families Who Have a Family Member with Down Syndrome
Paul M. Ajuwon

The Family Quality of Life Survey (FQOLS) (Brown et al., 2006), was administered to a group of 31 families who have children with Down syndrome enrolled at a community-based centre in Nigeria. Ideas on how families perceive services for their children, and the extent to which families are coping, are discussed. Suggestions are made for effective policy and practice and for enhanced understanding of disabilities by the society.

Relations of Parental Perceptions to the Behavioural Characteristics of Adolescents with Down Syndrome
Meghan M. Burke, Marisa H. Fisher, and Robert M. Hodapp

This study examined how the behaviours of individuals with Down syndrome relate to parent functioning during the adolescent years. Measures of personality, intelligence, adaptive, and maladaptive behaviour were collected for 42 adolescents with Down syndrome and related to parental depression, ways of coping, worries about the future, and positive perceptions. Across the adolescent years, most parents continued to feel rewarded by their adolescents with Down syndrome; adolescents who displayed more positive personality characteristics had parents who felt more rewarded by their children. Conversely, those who displayed higher levels of internalizing (but not externalizing) problem behaviours had parents who were significantly more worried about their adolescents futures. Implications are discussed.

The Middle Years and Beyond: Transitions and Families of Adults with Down Syndrome
Nancy S. Jokinen, Matthew P. Janicki, Mary Hogan, and Lawrence T. Force

Normally expected transitions connect the various periods of life. Often these transitions are promted by life events that require adaptation to a changed circumstance and may challenge both individual and family quality of life. Such transitions may be planful (proactive) or demand (reactive). Little, however, has been written about the nature of such transitions and how they specifically affect older-aged families of adults with Down syndrome. Such families are often predominate lifelong carers of adults with Down syndrome. Drawing on research and experience, the authors examined three transition points from a family perspective. Each of these points of change requires that people adapt and may lead to various outcomes, including at times outcomes that are unexpected, stressful, and challenging. The three points of transition examined include moving away from the parental home, changes occurring within a residential service (e.g., staff changes, relocations), and the reactions to the onset and course of dementia. Vignettes and quotes illustrate the complexities of these transitions and show that, even with planful management, often such transitions can go awry and produce unpredictable outcomes.



High Plasma Homocysteine and Low Serum Folate Levels Induced by Antiepileptic Drugs in Down Syndrome
Antonio Siniscalchi, Giovambattista De Sarro, Simona Loizzo, and Luca Gallelli

Clinical and epidemiological studies suggested an association between hyper-homocysteinemia (Hyper-Hcy) and cerebrovascular disease. Experimental studies showed potential proconvulsant activity of Hcy, with several drugs commonly used to treat patients affected by neurological disorders also able to modify plasma Hcy levels. We assessed the effect of long-term AED treatment on plasma Hcy levels in patients with Down syndrome (DS) and epilepsy. We also evaluated the relationship between the plasma Hcy levels, and folic acid or vitamin B12. We enrolled 15 patients in the Down syndrome with epilepsy group (DSEp, 12 men and 3 women, mean age 22 - 12.5 years old) and 15 patients in the Down syndrome without epilepsy group (DSControls, 12 men and 3 women, mean age 20 - 13.7 years old). In the DSEp group the most common form of epilepsy was simple partial epilepsy, while the most common AED used was valproic acid. Plasma Hcy levels were significantly higher (P < 0.01) in the DSEp group compared with the DSControl group. Significant differences (P < 0.01) between DSEp and DSControls were also observed in serum concentrations of folic acid, but not in serum levels of vitamin B12. In conclusion, our observations suggest that treatment with AEDs in DSEp patients induces an increase in plasma Hcy levels and a significant decrease in serum folic acid, therefore supplementation with vitamins may be useful in order to obtain normal plasma Hcy values and reduce the risk of both cardiovascular and neurological diseases

Puberty, Menstruation and Pain in Australian and Irish Females with Down Syndrome
Margaret. R. Kyrkou