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Genet Couns. 2005;16(4):383-91.

Abilities and needs of children with genetic syndromes.

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Institute of Human Genetics, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany.


Children with unbalanced karyotypes or other genetic syndromes are generally supposed to be developmentally retarded and mentally handicapped. This has to be ascribed to defect oriented views, leading to negative valuations of their unusual physical condition including slow motor development. A new dialogue oriented view and working concept is presented. It accepts physical differences as biological facts, which primarily do not restrict brainpower. The development of intelligence, behaviour and personality depends largely on the environment. Impeding factors should be searched here and eliminated as far as possible with the aim to prevent secondary mental disability after a syndrome diagnosis. In general, children with genetic syndromes are able to understand language. Thus, they can be educated like other children. They should learn to accept rules and limits, answer questions and follow demands. Their communicative tools may be words, gestures, mimics or written language. While physical support has to be given if necessary, their principally open mind needs stimuli according to their chronological age. Normal mental capacities should be expected, unless the opposite is proven.

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