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Down Syndrome and Dementia: Theories and Treatment Essay

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Updated: Jun 16th, 2020

Down syndrome

Down syndrome is one of the neurodevelopmental disorders, and it emerges after a genetic disorder occurs during the division of chromosomes. The genetic material in the chromosome 21 is responsible for the development of the disorder, and its symptoms appear at the infantry stage of development.

Children with Down syndrome experience slower physical development. The children also struggle with learning, and the disorder may also lead to their development of complicated health issues. Some of the common symptoms of the disorder include having abnormal facial features like smaller ears with unique shapes. The victims may portray various health problems depending on the affected parts of their bodies (Chapman & Hesketh, 2000).

For instance, some children with the disorder develop heart-related complications when their hearts fail to develop properly. Other children may portray hormone-related illnesses, especially when the thyroid gland fails to develop normally. Down syndrome tops the list of the most common genetic chromosomal illnesses, and it causes learning problems for many children (Silverman, 2007).

Behavioral criteria

The behavioral criteria of the victims of Down syndrome depend on the severity of the disorder. The disorder ranges from mild severity to moderate severity. Down syndrome causes serious health problems, especially when the vital organs in the body do not develop as required. Victims with mild cases of Down syndrome portray close-to-normal development in their physical nature, but they have limited ability to learn.

The victims of the disorder have difficulties in using one or more of their senses. Some may fail to see properly, whereas others have difficulties in hearing. Those with hearing problems may fail to learn their language unless they get hearing aids. Learning for most of the victims of Down syndrome is a big challenge because their IQ is significantly lower than the normal human.

Children with Down syndrome also have a limited ability to engage in socializing activities. Most of the children like their solitude because they do not know how to create relationships with other children around them. The children also portray dependency in accomplishing simple tasks like eating as they grow up. The children may also portray unique behaviors like temperament and the inability to control their emotions. The children also have a difficult time learning languages and simple arithmetic (Chapman & Hesketh, 2000).


Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that results from the abnormal division of chromosome 21. Chromosome 21 is responsible for the physical and cognitive development problems portrayed by victims of the syndrome. There are different abnormalities in chromosome 21 division that may lead to the disorder. Trisomy 21 is the most common abnormalities, which involves the victims developing three copies of chromosome 21. A normal human being has a pair of chromosome 21.

This problem begins at the stage of development of the sperm or the egg. Mosaic Down syndrome is not common, but its victims have three chromosomes 21 copies in specific cells. The abnormal division occurs after fertilization. Translocation Down syndrome occurs when some part of chromosome 21 is translocated to another chromosome. This process leads to the development of children with additional genetic material to their chromosomes. The three causal factors may lead to the development of mild or moderate Down syndrome, but trisomy 21 is the most common cause of the disorder; hence, the severity can be detected before birth (Patterson & Costa, 2005).


It is quite difficult to deal with Down syndrome in children, especially when it is detected late into its development. Physicians recommend the early intervention to help children attain positive development. When detected early enough, there are many options for managing the disorder. Detecting the disorder in time also eliminates the chances of developing health complications.

Early intervention programs for the disorder include the development of specialized training to develop motor skills in children. The programs may also help children in the development of sensory abilities as well as cognitive development. Different cases of Down syndrome should undergo patient-focused interventions to ensure each victim receives the appropriate care for their respective cases. As revealed by Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, children should receive parental assistance in their early learning process to enhance their learning abilities (Lanfranchi, Jerman & Vianello, 2009).

In the same capacity, children with Down syndrome should receive learning instructions from their parents and guardians to influence normal learning. Their speed of learning may be slower than normal children, but the repetition of ideas influences their comprehension (Chapman & Hesketh, 2000).

Researchers in the health care field have developed viable programs to help children with Down syndrome by focusing on their motor, social, cognitive, and independence skills. As Vygotsky’s social theory indicates, parents should be instrumental in helping their children develop social skills by teaching them how to use their first language, and how to control their emotions (Alony & Kozulin, 2007).

There are professionals in the field who have mastered how to diagnose the disorder and indicate the specific needs of children with the disorder. The experts offer therapy programs to help the children in their early childhood learning. Experts in different areas of early childhood development should integrate their efforts to help children with Down syndrome to attain normal childhood development. Medications may be administered to control the symptoms, but the genetic disorder cannot be reversed by taking drugs.


Dementia is a general term for a neurocognitive disorder characterized by the loss of the ability of a person to think, memorize ideas, and reason logically. The disorder is normally a result of the development of illnesses that affect the normal functioning of the brain or the development of the condition because of drug abuse, among many other factors.

The common symptoms of dementia range from changes in character, inability to control emotions to changes in the behavior of the victim. The severity of dementia in victims depends on the cause of the disorder. While some of the causal factors of dementia are easily treatable, others are untreatable. Some of the treatable causes of dementia include drug abuse, hormonal imbalance, and side effects of medications. Treatable dementia is referred to as pseudo-dementia. Some of the causes of the untreatable form of dementia include diseases like Alzheimer’s, drug abuse, and brain infections (O’Connor et al., 2007).

Behavioral criteria

The behavior of dementia victims varies depending on the part of the brain that is affected by causal factors. Dementia caused by Alzheimer’s syndrome involves the loss of memory, inability to comprehend ideas with ease, and impairment of thoughts. Victims of Alzheimer’s-related dementia portray impairments in their use of language, motor skills, and visual abilities (Goedert & Spillantini, 2006).

Pseudo-dementia involves impaired speech, behavioral changes, and alterations of personalities. The severity of dementia varies for the different types of the disorder based on the severity of the degeneration of the brain. For instance, a beginner in drug abuse activities may have milder dementia than a person with a long-term record of using the same drugs.


Various factors can cause dementia in people from different age groups. The most common causes of the disorder are degenerative neurological illnesses like Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s. Degenerative illnesses lead to brain damage and the destruction of the nervous system. These damages result in the inability of the victims to perform their normal mental functions.

Dementia may also result from the excessive consumption of alcohol or drug abuse. The toxic effects of drugs on the brain and the nervous system lead to the impairment of behavior and normal motor skills. Pathogens infect the brain and the spinal cord when diseases like AIDS affect the immunity of individuals. Physical injuries to the brain and the development of tumors may also lead to the development of dementia. Dementia is common among long-term boxing players because the constant physical shock on their heads gradually leads to the destruction of some parts of the brain (White et al., 2005).


Treating dementia depends on the causes and the parts of the brain that are affected. For all types of dementia, there are two possible treatment approaches, which include medication therapy and care therapy. Alzheimer’s-related dementia is not curable, but the administration of drugs aimed at alleviating the symptoms can help in managing the disorder.

For instance, there are drugs used to stabilize the emotions of the victims to help them maintain their normal behavior. Physicians use Beck’s cognitive therapy model to enhance the wellness of their patients. The theory advocates for therapists to use a patient-oriented approach to promote wellness in patients suffering from various mental impairment disorders (Gallagher-Thompson, Steffen & Thompson, 2008).

The caring approach to treating dementia involves the development of programs aimed at managing the symptoms portrayed by patients with dementia. The cognitive-behavioral therapy model is instrumental in the development of the appropriate therapy program to control the behavior of the patients while promoting their cognitive ability. This approach is quite effective for treatable dementia, and it slows down the degenerative effects of untreatable dementia (Gallagher-Thompson, Steffen & Thompson, 2008).


Alony, S., & Kozulin, A. (2007). Dynamic assessment of receptive language in children with Down syndrome. International Journal of Speech-language Pathology, 9(4), 323-331. Web.

Chapman, R. S., & Hesketh, L. J. (2000). Behavioral phenotype of individuals with Down syndrome. Mental retardation and developmental disabilities research reviews, 6(2), 84-95. Web.

Gallagher-Thompson, D., Steffen, A., & Thompson, L. W. (Eds.). (2008). Handbook of behavioral and cognitive therapies with older adults. New York NY: Springer. Web.

Goedert, M., & Spillantini, M. G. (2006). A century of Alzheimer’s disease. science, 314(5800), 777-781. Web.

Lanfranchi, S., Jerman, O., & Vianello, R. (2009). Working memory and cognitive skills in individuals with Down syndrome. Child Neuropsychology, 15(4), 397-416. Web.

O’Connor, D., Phinney, A., Smith, A., Small, J., Purves, B., Perry, J., & Beattie, L. (2007). Personhood in dementia care Developing a research agenda for broadening the vision. Dementia, 6(1), 121-142. Web.

Patterson, D., & Costa, A. C. (2005). Down syndrome and genetics—A case of linked histories. Nature Reviews Genetics, 6(2), 137-147. Web.

Silverman, W. (2007). Down syndrome: cognitive phenotype. Mental retardation and developmental disabilities research reviews, 13(3), 228-236. Web.

White, L., Small, B. J., Petrovitch, H., Ross, G. W., Masaki, K., Abbott, R. D., & Markesbery, W. (2005). Recent clinical-pathologic research on the causes of dementia in late life: update from the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study. Journal of geriatric psychiatry and neurology, 18(4), 224-227. Web.

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