Wayfinding Skills in Youth with Down Syndrome: What Parents Say

Dr. Yingying “Jennifer” Yang conducted an online survey to gather feedback from parents of children with Down syndrome (DS) about their child’s ability to navigate their environment, a skill known as wayfinding. Past studies have shown that wayfinding is difficult for people with DS, however little is known about their real-life wayfinding abilities. Many registry families participated in this study - thank you!

Dr. Yang’s study focused on 86 parents of young people with DS between the ages of 12-25. Participants completed an online survey on their children’s wayfinding behaviors and also provided some of their own feelings and expectations about their children’s wayfinding ability and wayfinding confidence.

There were several interesting findings from this study. Parents reported that their children had limited wayfinding knowledge, yet the children were very confident in their own wayfinding abilities. Over half of parents planned to teach their children wayfinding skills or had already done so; roughly 1/3 of parents did not plan on teaching these skills. A majority of parents were concerned about their children getting lost at least sometimes. Parents who reported lower levels of concern had taught their children some wayfinding skills and reported better wayfinding skills in their children. Future studies will need to focus on social and safety concerns, as well as cognitive aspects of wayfinding.

This study will be published in the Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability. Co-authors with Jennifer Yang are Gayle. G. Faught, and Edward C. Merrill.