Physical · Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome · Profile

What is it?

Down syndrome is a genetic condition that causes intellectual impairment and is associated with a number of physical features and medical conditions.

What causes it?

Down syndrome is a set of physical and mental traits caused by a gene problem that occurs prior to birth. Down syndrome is a chromosomal abnormality resulting in 47 chromosomes rather than the usual 46. Having extra or abnormal chromosomes changes the way the brain and body develop.


The condition occurs in about one in 800 live births.

Medical Considerations

Students with Down syndrome have complex needs and a range of associated conditions and characteristics. These can include vision and hearing problems, language and fine motor difficulties. Behavioural difficulties and autism may occur in conjunction with Down Syndrome, and some health problems may also be present.


Students with Down syndrome do not just have an intellectual disability. Down syndrome is a complex disorder that affects cognitive capacity, sensory functioning, behaviour, physical capacity and health. Children with Down syndrome have recognisable facial and other physical features. For example, they are often shorter than other children, have short hands and fingers, a horizontal skin crease across the palm, a small head that is flattened at the back, and folds of the inner angle of the eyes.


In all children with Down syndrome, care should be taken not to extend the neck excessively. Some children may need modification of some activities if they have strength or coordination difficulties, but participation should be facilitated and encouraged.

Further Information

The NSW Department of Education and Training Guidelines for the Safe Conduct of Sport and Physical Activity provide further information.

Down Syndrome Australia

Down Syndrome · Educational

Lesson Preparation & Materials

Teaching Strategies

Feedback & Assessment

Down Syndrome · Pastoral

Classroom Management

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