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Development of Self‐Help, Language, and Academic Skills in Persons With Down Syndrome


Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities

Published online on


Using visual analysis by means of scatterplots, correlational analysis, and linear regressions, the authors explored the skills of individuals with Down syndrome in the areas of self‐help, language, academics, and computer skills. By combining data of several Dutch studies, they obtained 1,252 different observations made by parents on 862 individuals, aged <1–35 years. Research shows advancement in language skills up to the age of 12, with plateauing afterward. In contrast, self‐help skills still increase in adolescence and young adulthood. Academics and computer skills improve up to the age of 14. However, less developed academic skills (and computer skills) of adolescents and young adults appear to be a generational difference, rather than a loss of acquired skills. In their analysis, the authors differentiated between students with a primarily regular school career vs. those with a primarily special school career. In addition, in both groups, the studies were differentiated between students with an IQ >50 vs. an IQ between 35 and 50. The comparison between the various subgroups revealed that children with special education backgrounds in the higher IQ range demonstrated less advanced academic skills than children with regular education backgrounds in the lower IQ range. This suggests that regular education is more stimulating for academic skill development. Using age, “school career,” and IQ (<35; 35–50; 50–60; 60–70; >70) as predictors, regressions confirmed this conclusion. The authors conclude that their analyses show that the shift in the early 1990s in the Netherlands toward more inclusion in education for students with Down syndrome has led to better outcomes in academic skill development for these students.