As new parents of a child with Down syndrome, you already have your hands full just trying to get acclimated to this new country, to obtain the correct guidebooks and learn a few words of Dutch. Therefore, you are understandably skeptical when someone suggests that one of the new people you should meet is a physical therapist. They are recommending that you start your new infant in regular physical therapy. Why physical therapy? Don't children with Down syndrome learn to walk and run, just like other children do?
Careful evaluation of a person with Down syndrome who has a decline in function has broader public health implications. Many of the adults we have seen for a decline in function have either previously been given the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease or there was a strong suspicion by the family or caregivers that the person had Alzheimer's disease. In discussing the concern with the family or caregiver, it is clear that many people believe that all persons with Down syndrome will develop Alzheimer's disease. Our experience and the research of others would suggest that not all persons with Down syndrome will develop clinical dementia stemming from Alzheimer's disease. The exact prevalence of Alzheimer's disease in persons with Down syndrome is still being investigated.