Differences in Stages of Development between a Typical Child and a Child Diagnosed with Down Syndrome
According to the CDC and National Birth Defects Prevention Network study conducted from 2004 to 2006, there is approximately 6,000 diagnosis of Down syndrome in the US each year. While the exact population of people with Down syndrome living in the US is unknown, mostly thanks to their increased average lifespan, there’s no lack of effort to help children and adults diagnosed with Down syndrome to integrate into society and reach their developmental milestones.
Let’s have a look at differences in stages of development between a typical child and a child diagnosed with Down syndrome. The following information is based on the observations of Ph.D. Thomas L. Layton, but keep in mind that every child’s individual development may vary. Also, there might be other health aspects that influence a child’s development.
First Two YearsIn its first months, a typical baby will react to sounds, as well as vocalize and develop different cries for different needs. By the time the baby is 15 months old, it will comprehend 50 words and produce around 10, respond to yes or no questions, walk and follow one-step commands. At approximately two years of age, a typical child will understand 200-300 words, uses about 50 intelligible words, and carries out two-stage requests.
Babies with Down syndrome will react to sounds occasionally during their first months and only have minimal vocalizations. They won’t babble until 10-12 months of age. Around 12 months old they’ll be able to stand by holding on, comprehend about 50 words, and start understanding gestures and try to communicate using them. Their first oral word comes between 11 and 15 months of age, and they start walking at 18 months. By two years of age, they comprehend 100-125 words, communicate through 3-6 spoken words and 10-15 signs, and follow one-step commands.
Two to Four Years OldBy the time they’re three years old, typical children produce around 100 words and comprehend 500-900 words. They start using negatives between 26-30 months old and learn to count to five between 31-35 months old. At four years of age, they can count to 10, comprehend and produce around 2000 words as well as ask more complex questions.
Children with Down syndrome comprehend 180-250 words by the time they’re three, and they produce 30-80 intelligible words. In this stage, they start relying on signs less. Between three and four years of age, they start carrying out two-stage commands and counting to 3. At around four, they produce 200-300 words and comprehend 500-900 words.
Up to Five and Six Years OldBetween 60 and 71 months of age, a typically developing child masters 13,000 words, graded quantifiers, and 6 or 7-word sentences. They use all pronouns and can name days of the week and also count up to 20.
A child with Down syndrome between 60 and 71 months of age can produce 100-400 intelligible words, while comprehension remains at 500-900 words. They can count to 10, refer to self with a pronoun, use 3 or 4-word sentences as well as ask simple questions.
Thanks to the improved medical care and Early Intervention programs that assist in the development of children diagnosed with Down syndrome, it is estimated that a growing number of people with Down syndrome are becoming able to live independently. Many developmental milestones that occur with typical children can still arise with children diagnosed with Down syndrome, albeit a little later.
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