Down Syndrome

While it is undoubtedly an under-researched area, there is over 40 years of evidence demonstrating the potential of ABA interventions to benefit individuals with Down Syndrome.  Research with individuals with Down Syndrome indicates that ABA interventions have been successfully used to treat a variety of forms of challenging behaviour and to teach skills related to speech and language, toileting, memory, social, academic and other skills.

Challenging Behaviour

Some research indicates that escape and attention motivated challenging behaviours may be part of the behavioural phenotype of Down Syndrome. These behaviours may take a variety of forms including tantrums, aggression, absconding or self injury. ABA can help address these problems. Typically, Behaviour Analysts conduct functional assessments to identify the factors that increase or decrease the likelihood of specific challenging behaviours. They then use the information gathered during the assessment to formulate a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses any relevant skill deficits and eliminates unwanted sources of reinforcement.

Comprehensive Education Interventions

ABA interventions for individuals with Down syndrome are individualised to the needs of the learner. Behaviour Analysts working with individuals with Down Syndrome may use behavioural assessment tools such as the VB-MAPP, ABLLS and AFLS in order to devise a comprehensive set of programmes to help improve clients’ quality of life across a variety of areas.

To find a behaviour analyst, visit the BACB website.

Suggested Readings:

Andy’s Behaviour Answer  - A reader-friendly account of a comprehensive ABA intervention for a 9 year old boy with Down Syndrome written by Liz Steele (Andy’s Mother)

Addressing challenging behaviour in Children with Down syndrome: The use of applied behaviour analysis for assessment and intervention – An academic article describing the relevance of ABA in addressing challenging behaviour in children with Down syndrome

Studies Demonstrating the Effectiveness of Applied Behaviour Analysis Methodology with Children with Down Syndrome – A list of empirical studies demonstrating the effectiveness of ABA for children with Down Syndrome. It should be noted that this article was first published in 2005 and research from subsequent years is not included.