The Typical Behavior of a Child With Down Syndrome

A child with a trisomy 21 diagnosis -- Down syndrome -- often has a variety of health issues that may lead to behavioral problems. As you navigate this challenging course, learn about behaviors that are typical of children with Down syndrome 1. Armed with this information, you will be in a better position to care for your child.

Developmental Vs. Chronological Age

A child with Down syndrome may display some skills and behaviors that are on track with her chronological age and some that are on track with a delayed developmental age, states Doreen B. Greenstein, Ph.D., with the National Network for Child Care. As you care for your child, strive to enable her to interact with children of both age groups -- both chronological and developmental ages -- to give the child exposure to both groups of peers.

Typical Behavioral Issues

Common behavioral issues in children with Down syndrome include a short attention span, impulsive behavior, slow learning and poor judgment, states the University of Maryland Medical Center 3. Children with Down syndrome may also wander, have attention problems, and show oppositional behavior or compulsive behavior, advises the National Down Syndrome Society 13.

Communication and Learning

Children with Down syndrome may exhibit speech and language delays, according to the National Down Syndrome Society 123. Children usually want to communicate and may resort to facial expressions and gestures. Sometimes children with Down syndrome may display temper tantrums as they get older, often stemming from anger and frustration with difficulty communicating. Children with Down syndrome will generally learn and grow to meet expectations, advises the Down Syndrome Victoria organization. Raise the bar and expect a child with Down syndrome to learn what children without disabilities learn, although achieving goals may take longer 3.


Although a child with Down syndrome can have challenges and difficulties, your child needs love and support, not unlike children without disabilities, according to the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities website 3. Teach your child self-care skills such as grooming and dressing. Encourage your child to be as independent as possible. Assign household chores that are appropriate for your child’s capabilities. Expose your child to a variety of experiences, just as you would a child without disabilities. Help your child interact with others to learn social skills.