Adolescents & Adults
Changes in social attitudes and government policies assist in ensuring that the future for people with Down syndrome contains a larger degree of independence, privacy, education, housing and employment than has been available in the past. Many adults with Down syndrome are now living independently in the community, sometimes with support from friends, family or organisations. They are employed in valued roles in either supported or open employment, are enjoying friendships and relationships, and some are choosing to marry. Interestingly, with these changes to quality of life, and better access to quality medical care, people with Down syndrome are now living longer, meaningful lives, many into their 60's and 70's.
It is not the aim of parenthood to continue caring for your sons or daughters throughout life, but rather prepare them during the childhood years to live as independently as possible in adulthood. The same is true of children Down syndrome, although letting go can sometimes be more difficult in this
situation. Parents naturally worry about normal things like social pressures, vulnerability, sexuality and physical safety. By working through these issues and teaching the appropriate skills during childhood and adolescence, when the time comes to leave home the change can be easier for both parent and child. It is essential that we recognise that all people with Down syndrome have the right to an education about their bodies, relationships and sexuality and this education needs to be ongoing, consistent and targeted. Family Planning Queensland are an invaluable source of information and resources around the topics of puberty, sexuality and relationships.
Keeping healthy is just as important for adults with Down syndrome as the general population. We are learning more and more about the age related health issues specific to people with Down syndrome which helps us know what to look out for . It important to point out that just like the general population there is variability between people with Down syndrome. This means that while some of these related health issues may be relevant to one individual they may not be to another, just as no aging pattern will be exactly the same for all people with Down syndrome. You can find more information in the Useful Downloads and Links section below.
All General Practitioners (GP's) should have the skills to effectively manage the health of an adult with Down syndrome. Your GP may find it helpful to know, however, that the Queensland Centre for Intellectual and Developmental Disability (QCIDD) provides a telephone consultation service that provides information and advice regarding health issues specific to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This service is available to health and disability professionals as well as family members and can be reached by phone on (07) 3163 2524. You will also find the QCIDD website listed below which has more information about the services they provide as well as lots of fantastic resources.
Useful Downloads and Links
- Family Planning Queensland
Information and resources to support education about puberty, sexuality and relationships
- Queensland Centre for Intellectual and Developmental Disability (QCIDD)
Health information and resources for medical professionals, families, service providers and people with disabilities
- Adults Living Adult Lives
An article about the importance of allowing adults with Down syndrome the right to choice, personal power and life experiences
- Health and aging
An article about age-related health issues associated with Down syndrome
- Mental Health
An article that explores the issues around mental wellness and people with Down syndrome
- Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease
An introductory article to the link between Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease
Further Information and Support
For further information and support please contact the team at DSAQ on (07) 3356 6655 or at [email protected]