Signs of Cognitive Change in Adolescents and Young Adults with Intellectual Disability

Dr. Fran Conners, The University of Alabama

This study will be conducted by the Conners Lab at The University of Alabama as a pilot study for a potential grant-funded study in the future. One characteristic of Down syndrome is accelerated aging, which can include declines in memory and other cognitive skills. Another is heightened risk for Alzheimer’s Dementia. In this study, we are trying to identify very early signs of cognitive change in people with Down syndrome. Identifying these could lead to future treatments that could slow the decline. The goals of the study are 1) to identify early changes in memory and language, 2) to identify early behavioral changes (like sleep patterns and social engagement), and 3) to link the first two goals to symptoms of mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment is a diagnosable condition and a risk factor for Alzheimer’s Dementia.

Reading Comprehension in Down Syndrome

Dr. Melanie Schuele, Vanderbilt University

Reading outcomes may be impacted by strengths and weaknesses in language, and the purpose of this study is to better understand the factors that influence reading comprehension in young people with Down syndrome. This research could help parents, teachers, speech-language pathologists, and researchers understand speech, language, and reading skills in individuals with Down syndrome. Dr. Schuele is currently recruiting individuals with DS between the ages of 10-22 in the North Alabama area.

Well-Being and the Social Experiences of Adolescents with Down Syndrome

Jenna Reardanz, Graduate Student

Research shows that children and adolescents with intellectual disability are at a higher risk to experience peer victimization compared to their typically developing peers. This stud develops measures for this population that will be used in future research on the possible consequences of peer victimization, such as anxiety, depression, acting out, etc. The information learned in this study will used to obtain federal funding for a larger study. The study focuses on adolescents with Down syndrome age 11-17.