Athletic Participation Limitations of the Down’s Syndrome Population

Heather L. Orndorff
California University of Pennsylvania

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Abstract The Special Olympics is a sporting event that has been designed for people with intellectual disabilities including Down’s syndrome. Besides having a different body structure, these special population athletes are unable to perform to the capabilities of an individual without an intellectual disability. Thus they are unique athletes and require different management of athletic injuries and athletic participation from athletic trainers. The purpose of this paper was to state behavioral and cognitive capabilities, atlantoaxial and cervical abnormalities, exercise capacities, and cardiac disease of the Down’s syndrome population and how they affect exercise.

Behavioral and Cognitive Capabilities People with Down’s syndrome have differences in their adaptive behavior that are learned during the developmental period of life (Lavay, Reid, & Cressler-Chaviz, n.d.). In addition to Down’s syndrome, they may be diagnosed with additional behavioral disabilities such as autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) (Einfield et al., 2006, Ghosh, Shah, Dhir, & Merchant, 2008; Kent, Evans, & Sharp, 1999). ASD is a disorder that impairs social skills, communication skills, and behavioral patterns that place a large demand on parents, teachers, and the society (Ghosh et al., 2008; Kent et al., 1999). It was reported that males were more commonly diagnosed with the combination at a 9 percent occurrence rate (Kent et al., 1999). This puts this population at risk for community residential placement, reduced occupational opportunities, and restriction in participation of recreational and educational programs (Einfield et al., 2006).

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