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Here’s what you need to know about adults with Down Syndrome & independent living

Down Syndrome is a genetic (chromosomal) condition that affects physical growth, development, and intellectual ability. Many adults with Down Syndrome experience a learning disability to some extent – usually mild to moderate – which influences:

  • Independent living & adults with Down Syndrome: The ability to live independently or learn the skills required to live by themselves/without a family member or carer
  • Delays in learning – including core subjects like maths and English, but also in learning everyday life skills
  • Social development (very mild)
  • Motor development
  • Language skills, including speaking
  • The ability to process verbal communications (visual is easier)
  • Hearing and sight (both can be impaired)
  • Amongst other areas of physical health.

Can someone with Down Syndrome live independently?

If you have a friend or family member, or you regularly engage with an adult with Down Syndrome, you may be wondering “can someone with Down Syndrome live on their own?”. The answer isn’t black and white – some people with Down Syndrome can live independently, while others can’t and will instead live in a group or with carers in a supported living situation.

When thinking about independent living, several factors are taken into consideration. These include:

  • Can the adult move around/walk unaided?
  • Can the adult look after their own basic needs – i.e. prepare food and wash?
  • Which/how many independent living skills does the adult have? (continued below)

Adults with Down Syndrome & Independent Living: What can adults with DS do for themselves?

With dedicated and specialised support, adults with Down Syndrome can learn to live independently, as well as travel, work, and complete other day-to-day activities. While some adults with DS won’t gain total independence, they will learn how to master key tasks partially/with help, i.e. shopping with a carer or dressing but receiving help with putting on shoes.

These key tasks are called `independent living skills` and include:

  • Budgeting and paying bills
  • Cleaning the household
  • Dressing/self-care
  • Driving
  • Going to work
  • Using public transport
  • Remembering to take medication unprompted
  • Shopping/paying for items
  • Socialising
  • Studying

Learning disability support for adults with Down Syndrome

Independent living

Trainee stories

Helpful resources

https://downsyndromeuk.co.uk/resources/

https://www.down-syndrome.org/en-gb/resources/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/downs-syndrome/support-for-adults/

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