Down syndrome is a common and relatively well known condition. The syndrome is a genetic problem, and can lead to the onset of moderate to severe learning disabilities. The condition was first officially described as Down syndrome more than one hundred and thirty years ago. Around thirty years ago, the extra twenty first chromosome was discovered by a team of French geneticists. However, it is worth pointing out that the presence of Down syndrome in a child does not always mean that an individual is unable to learn anything or develop adequate cognitive abilities. There is a relatively negative stereotype that surrounds those with Down syndrome, and this is something that needs to be addressed.
Down syndrome and cognitive development
There is a significant stereotype that is often applied, consciously or unconsciously, to those with Down syndrome that states that Down syndrome children have relatively similar capabilities when it comes to cognitive development. This is not necessarily the case and, in fact, there can be a wide variation when it comes to the cognitive abilities of any given individual with Down syndrome. There is significant scientific evidence to back up this theory. It is true that there are some Down syndrome people who do suffer from profound levels of mental handicap or retardation. However, the truth is that most people with Down syndrome experience moderate to severe learning problems. In addition to this, a minority of those with Down syndrome will develop cognitive levels at a relatively normal pace and success rate.
With regard to cognitive development in Down syndrome people, it is important to ensure that any learning skills that are gained are not lost over time. Down syndrome people should be encouraged to develop new skills as well as maintaining those that have already been acquired. It should also be pointed out that some caution should be exercised when it comes to the undergoing of psychometric tests by those with Down syndrome. These tests are normally used to test cognitive abilities and potential.
Another thing worth remembering in relation to those with Down syndrome is the fact that it is not biological factors alone that determine how cognitive abilities develop. It is still something of a mystery as to why there is such a wide variation in the level of cognitive abilities developed by those with Down syndrome. Thus, it is thought that environmental factors and the psyche of the individual play an important role in the development of said individual.