Down Syndrome is a spectrum disorder, and different people are affected differently by it. For example, there are people such as Chris Burke who are able to speak, write, hold jobs, etc. There are also people like the guy with Down Syndrome who is so severely retarded that he mostly just stands around and drools (NOTE: I am NOT making fun; just stating a fact.).
Has there ever been a case where an individual had the 21st chromosome, who perhaps even had the physical characterstics of Down Syndrome, but who had an average or even above-average IQ?
When I worked for a newspaper, we had to put up with interns every so often. One year the publisher gave me the resume of the person who was going to intern that semester and I noticed that she had a lot of public service on her resume, mostly for a couple of nonprofits that worked with Down Syndrome patients. I thought this was really nice.
She was a junior in college and had a decent GPA.
When she showed up her first day it was obvious why she had done so much public service for Down Syndrome. She had it. She was a spokesman and poster child for the syndrome.
She was not the brightest intern I ever saw but she was far from the dullest. And, as I say, she was a junior in college with above average grades. She was very hardworking and helpful.
So yes, I wouuld say their IQs can be average or above average.
Since we know that Down (Down’s) Syndrome is a spectum disorder is there any genetic reason why some patients have significantly more serious problems than others? The specific genetic defect for these people is always the same as far as I know and most other genetic disorders I can think of result in fairly consistent outcomes.
The specific genetic disorder is not always the same. It is a chromosomal abnormality, generally an addition chromosome 21. However, some people get a fragment of an additional 21, often attached to another chromosome, that can lead to Down’s Syndrome defects.
Off the top of my head I cannot recall if that defect is associated with lesser severity of symptoms. Down’s syndrome also affects other organ systems (including facial structure, musculature and heart formation) which can also lead to modulating the severity of overall disorder.
Read this to learn about mosaic Down’s Syndrome, in which only some of the cells have trisomy. It’s pretty interesting.
Related to the above, there was a This American Life story about a mother who had a child with mosaic Down’s Syndrome. Because he didn’t show all the facial features and he functioned normally (his IQ was average), it was an easy enough thing to do. If I remember correctly, he was a teenager when she finally told him.
Ten years ago when I was looking at college (four year) programs for learnign disabled kids, I ran into a girl with Down’s Syndrome.
The textbook descriptions tend to be very conservative and out of date.
I actually have personal experiance with this. I have something called 18q- syndrome. I wasnt told I had it, until I was 16. I had a very extensive medical history with the doctors at the World’s Greatest University But b/c I don’t have mental retardation (have a learning disabilty and am actually gifted) the docs were all " she couldn’t POSSIBLY have it" (the textbook desciptions were VERY negative…best case scenerio severe mental retardation…worst case persistant vegativative state)
It wouldn’t surprise me if there were a lot of folks out there with undx whatever…but they aren’t being told they have it b/c of docs who are very conservative and who think that every genetic thing translates into severe mental whatever.
I don’t know her IQ (most Spaniards don’t even know their own), but I know a woman with Down’s Syndrome who has a law degree. She graduated high school at 19 (in theory it should be 18, but 19 is not unusual) and chose to continue her studies via the biggest university in Spain: UNED, the public Long Distance University. She says that by doing it like that, she and anybody who deals with her now can be sure that she wasn’t “gifted” her grades.
She does a lot of work with local disabled people associations. I understand that the first time she walked into somebody’s office with a client (also Down’s), the look in the guy’s face when he finally understood that the little blonde Down’s girl was the opposite lawyer was absolutely priceless.
I’m thrilled to find a proper thread starting to address obvious misconceptions.
I’m also writing a fiction that centers around a character who has trisomy of the 21st chromosome. This character’s intelligence is in a state of evolution (growing). This fiction is, in part, based on real life experience.
I had an adviser at my university who had characteristic stigmata associated with down’s, but it was obvious that he was smarter than the average bear… and then some.
PLEASE, forgive any insult anyone might attribute to my use of the word stigmata. This is the term my adviser and I felt was a best descriptive of my initial reaction when I met him and of the kinds of reaction that were common in his experience. Even by today’s standards my reaction was not overt, but I was a bit ashamed of myself because the characteristic facial differences are not a clear indication of ability or intelligence.
My adviser is one of many people who inspired my work on the novel.
My own education (psychology) on the subject taught me not to assume limitation, but rather to access road blocks that (social or physiological) hindered developmental opportunities. Intelligence is a matter of building blocks placed on very different foundations.
Intelligence Quotient - a lame attempt on the part of the developers to prove their own stupidity.
Intelligence is not conformitive, but rather individual and informative.