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Down Syndrome in Your Teen: Care Instructions


Most teens with Down syndrome are able to live healthy, happy lives. They have the same social needs as other teens. Most will want to date, make friends, and have close relationships. You can help prepare your child to do these things.

You can help your child learn about proper social skills and behaviour. But be aware of the social challenges and risks your child may face at this time. For example, these teens often don't have the same understanding of physical boundaries. They may not know when someone means to harm them.

Your teen may need extra support to learn adult life skills. And your teen may also need support to take care of their mental health. Your doctor can help you find resources for occupational therapy and counselling.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your teen at home?

  • Encourage your teen to take part in school and community activities. Give your teen the chance to form healthy friendships. Friends can help your teen feel happy and like they are part of the group.
  • Support your teen's interests, such as in art or music.
  • Start early to prepare your child for healthy adult relationships. Puberty starts at about the same age for teens with Down syndrome as for other young people. Your child will have many of the same sexual feelings as other teens.
    • Discuss love, mutual respect, kindness, and how to form friendships.
    • Discuss birth control in a clear, simple way.
    • Teach safer-sex practices to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
    • Teach respect for his or her body and the bodies of others.
    • Talk openly about your morals and beliefs.
  • Be involved with your child's education. Your child may need an adapted curriculum and might attend special classes.
  • Help your child set a daily routine to take care of hygiene needs. Teach him or her to shower or bathe and use deodorant.
  • Encourage your child to be active. Find activities your teen enjoys. Regular exercise is important for your child's health and well-being.
  • Help your child avoid abuse by teaching them how to be assertive and to recognize threats. These teens are more at risk for sexual abuse, injury, and other harm. Carefully screen caregivers. Teach your child to go out with a buddy. Talk about how to respond to strangers.
  • Seek counselling for your teen if you notice signs of depression. Your teen is at increased risk for depression, especially after a loss or a major upset in the normal routine. A change in behaviour is often the first sign of a problem.
  • Start planning for your teen's future. Many adults with Down syndrome have jobs and live independently in group homes or apartments with support services. Occupational therapy can help teach your teen the skills they need for adult life.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if your child has any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

Enter H961 in the search box to learn more about "Down Syndrome in Your Teen: Care Instructions".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.