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Challenges Of Down Syndrome Individuals In Middle Adulthood

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Imagine having someone treat you different because you have a disorder. Imagine being criticized for understanding and viewing the world differently. Having a genetic disorder can greatly affect someone’s life in both positive and negative ways. According to Kumin and Schoenbrodt (2015), the commonness of Down syndrome is said to be about 8 per 10,000 people in the United States (pg. 330). In the article it states that “Down Syndrome is a genetic condition affecting memory, cognition, sensory and motor skills, hearing and communication (Kumin & Schoenbrodt pg. 330, 2015). For this life stage paper, the social worker student will be examining the challenges of down syndrome individuals in middle adulthood and how it affects them. It is the social worker student’s hypothesis that individuals who are diagnosed with down syndrome can be autonomous if the adequate facilities were built and created to help them function properly.

Topic Description

Three critical points that are important issues concerning Down Syndrome individuals are their longevity, the periods in their life at which certain tasks are mastered, and at what point is functioning independently is achievable (Gilmore, Campbell, & Cuskelly, 2003). People tend to treat people with disorders differently and sometimes they are unaware of how it affects them. People also tend to undermine people with disorders as if they are not capable of understanding. Kumin and Schoenbrodt (2015) stated that “because people with Down syndrome can often understand much more than they can express, these difficulties with speech and language often lead relatives, friends, and potential employers to underestimate the intelligence and capabilities of people with Down syndrome (pg. 331).” Some also believe that people with the disorder can not function by themselves however, from volunteer experience, the social work student believes differently. Because of the disorder, it was suggested that people with Down syndrome would not have a very long lifespan. But according to Kumin and Schoenbrodt (2015), the life expectancy of people with Down syndrome has dramatically increased between the years, with adults reaching their 50th and 60th birthday (pg. 330).

Problem Analysis

According to an article written by Gilmore, Campbell, and Cuskelly (2003), it was stated that “people generally feel uncomfortable when interacting with individuals with disabilities believed that this was mainly due to their lack of knowledge about the disorder (pg.66)”. If people would take the time to be educated on how a person with down syndrome works, they could feel more comfortable interacting and being around them.

Life Stage

The social work student chose to examine middle adulthood, ages 34-60 with Down syndrome. According to Newman and Newman (2015), the developmental tasks are managing a career and nurturing an intimate relationship (pg. 469). The prime adaptive ego and core pathology is care and rejectivity (Newman & Newman, 2015, pg. 469). A person with Down syndrome can perform all of the above but in their own special way of understanding. As stated in the paper, even with a disorder, a person could still maintain a job properly. Since Down syndrome is recognized in the earlier stages of life, the most intimate relationship would be with their parents and later their caregiver (Gilmore, Campbell, & Cuskelly, 2003).

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Correlation of Topic and Stage

Down syndrome directly impacts middle adulthood negatively. For example, when things happen in life, people with Down syndrome react differently regardless if it’s happy or sad. Nevill and Benson state that people with Down syndrome should have access to psychosocial supports that teach coping and self-regulation skills when faced with life events and stressors (pg. 941, 2018). It impacts the age group because at this point in life, one should be independently living but because of the disorder, help is always needed. It also negatively impacts this life stage because with aging comes other diseases and problems. In an article written by Carr and Collins, it was stated that as person with down syndrome ages, they become high risk for deterioration in different areas of functioning and dementia (pg. 743-744, 2018).

Application of Research

Just because someone has a disorder does not mean they can not live accordingly just as a person without a disorder. Carr and Collins state that has been evidence of people with Down syndrome living past expectancy and living semi-independently (2018). This information can prove the social worker student’s hypothesis in saying that people with Down syndrome can be autonomous. It was also stated with stability and the right care and skills, a person with Down syndrome can learn to care for themselves with little no help needed (Carr & Collins, pg. 746, 2018).

Intervention Strategies

According to Kumin and Schoenbrodt (2015), people with Down Syndrome can receive government assistance such as SSI because they are disabled (pg. 335). They also can apply for employment at local store which can give them some type of resource for money. Living in a care facility can help someone with Down syndrome because not only are they being cared for they can develop long-lasting relationships with the other residents. Based on research, a person with Down syndrome could live semi-independently with a caregiver. Kumin and Schoenbrodt state that with the appropriate resources and training, a person with Down syndrome could maintain a full-time job which could improve a person with Down syndrome overall well-being (pg. 335, 2015). Having a job could increase how they feel about themselves, make them feel wanted, and instill great skills.

Implications for Social Work Practice

Social workers that work with people who have down syndrome can make things go easier by creating a care plan for their client. It is the social worker’s job to make sure their client is taken care of and comfortable. There could weekly meetings about the daily happenings of the client’s life either with the client, caregiver, and/or both. For future educational purposes, there could be more research done on a person with Down syndrome being more autonomous. Also pertaining to the social work student’s hypothesis, there could be more research done about facilities being built to host people with disorders.


  1. Carr, J., & Collins, S. (2018). 50 years with Down syndrome: A longitudinal study. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 31(5), 743–750
  2. Gilmore, L., Campbell, J., & Cuskelly, M. (2003). Developmental Expectations, Personality Stereotypes, and Attitudes Towards Inclusive Education: community and teacher views of Down syndrome. International Journal of Disability, Development & Education, 50(1), 65
  3. Haddad, F., Bourke, J., Wong, K., & Leonard, H. (2018). An investigation of the determinants of quality of life in adolescents and young adults with Down syndrome. PLoS ONE, 13(6), 1–19.
  4. Kumin, L., & Schoenbrodt, L. (2016). Employment in Adults with Down Syndrome in the United States: Results from a National Survey. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 29(4), 330–345.
  5. Nevill, R. E., & Benson, B. A. (2018). Risk factors for challenging behaviour and psychopathology in adults with Down syndrome. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 62(11), 941–951
  6. Newman, B.M., & Newman, P.R. (2015). Development through life: A psychosocial approach. (13th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.
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Challenges Of Down Syndrome Individuals In Middle Adulthood. (2021, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 26, 2024, from
“Challenges Of Down Syndrome Individuals In Middle Adulthood.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2021,
Challenges Of Down Syndrome Individuals In Middle Adulthood. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 Feb. 2024].
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