The personality of Down syndrome persons is normal, but as with any individual, it is influenced by the environment and life experiences. Parents must be especially attentive to the fact that suffering always affects their child and that children are very sensitive to the way others see them: things unsaid rarely escape them.
The child must be raised like his brothers and sisters, but your wanting him to fit into a normal environment shouldn’t be a form of denying the Down syndrome. Overprotection leads to overdependence.
When faced with a sudden change in behaviour, think first of a possible medical problem (pain, a thyroid problem, sensory problem, intolerance to a medication, epilepsy) or mental anguish over something like a funeral, a sister’s marriage (which almost always disturbs boys, whereas young girls and women seem to accept their brother getting married), an aggression, mistreatment, etc. When this behaviour makes daily life difficult, a psychiatrist should be consulted.
Only experienced child psychiatrists are able to diagnose autism. All children with mental retardation and difficulties in communicating orally – not only Down syndrome children – can withdraw into themselves, forming a kind of bubble around themselves. They can have stereotypical repeated movements, without any special meaning. Maintaining communication with your child will limit this type of thing, often linked to his wanting to break off relations with others. Development of psycho motor skills is useful because they contribute to reassuring your child and opening him up to others.
Oppositional behaviour in children can result from inappropriate attitudes about upbringing. Many parents, fearing to mistreat their child, cannot bring themselves forbid things and their child ends by finding it normal that he impose his wishes on adults. Behaviour problems are more frequent when the patient has difficulty in expressing himself orally. Often they are reactions to a situation or environment. Aggressiveness towards other persons often indicates a relational difficulty that needs acknowledgement. Self-aggressiveness can be an expression of physical pain or frustration.
Problems requiring a psychiatrist’s opinion seem somewhat more frequent than for the general population. They can be problems of obsession-compulsion or depression; more rarely, delirium or other psychiatric problems.