What Are Some Behavioral Challenges Typical In Persons with Down Syndrome?

The behavioral challenges seen in children with Down syndrome are usually not all that different from those seen in typically developing children. However, they may occur at a later age and last somewhat longer. For example, temper tantrums are typically common in 2-3 year olds, but for a child with Down syndrome, they may begin at 3-4.

When evaluating behavior in a child or adult with Down syndrome it is important to look at the behavior in the context of the individual’s developmental age, not only his or her chronological age. It is also important to know the individual’s receptive and expressive language skill levels, because many behavior problems are related to frustration with communication. Many times, behavior issues can be addressed by finding ways to help the person with Down syndrome communicate more effectively.

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School Evaluations for Emotional Challenges

When a child’s emotional needs get in the way of his or her education, a request can be made for an assessment to see if the needs are severe enough for Special Education or a 504 plan. Put this request in writing. If your child is already in Special Education, the assessment would find out if counseling should be added to the IEP as a related service.

Because Special Education counseling is to help students with their emotions so they can benefit from their education, when writing a request for an evaluation, use school examples. Areas might be grades and meeting grade level standards. School attendance, behavior, or discipline are other areas.

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What is a Manifestation Determination Review (MDR)?

When a child with a disability engages in behavior or breaks a code of conduct and the school proposes to remove the child, the school must hold a hearing to determine if the child’s behavior was caused by his disability. This hearing, a Manifestation Determination Review (MDR), is a process to review all relevant information and the relationship between the child’s disability and the behavior.

Consequences for problem behaviors should not discriminate against a child based on his disability. Yet, schools continue to suspend and expel students with disabilities for behavior caused by their disabilities.

Based on practical experience, Attorney Bill Brownley provides a “how to” guide attorneys (and parents) can use during the review to determine if the child’s conduct was “caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to the child’s disability.” (Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, p. 264). This guide describes how strategy, preparation, and documentation demonstrate a connection between the behavior and the disability, keeping the issue out of the hands of the school’s disciplinary officer.

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Planning for a Meeting about Your Child’s Behavior Needs

Raising a child with a disability is challenging.  Raising a child with a disability who also has behavioral needs is even more challenging.  As a parent, you may find yourself among competing approaches to handling behavior concerns.  Planning ahead for an individualized meeting about your child’s behavior needs will help you explain your own ideas about the best way to help your child in addition to listening to the ideas of others.

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Plan Ahead for an Effective Meeting about Your Child’s Behavior Needs

Raising a child with a disability is challenging. Raising a child with a disability who also has behavioral needs is even more challenging. As a parent, you may find yourself among competing approaches to handling behavior concerns.  Planning ahead for an individualized meeting about your child’s behavior needs will help you explain your own ideas about the best way to help your child in addition to listening to the ideas of others.

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