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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Down syndrome

*

* Not a rare disease
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Other Names for this Disease

  • Down's syndrome
  • Trisomy 21
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Your Question

My daughter has Down syndrome and is very high functioning. In the last few months she has begun to regularly move her head and eye gaze from side to side in a very ritualized set of movements. Is this symptom common to children with Down syndrome? What might be the cause of these movements?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

Is repetitive movements typical for children with Down syndrome?

A degree of repetitive behaviors are typical in child development, in both children with and without Down syndrome. The number of compulsive-like behaviors tend to be the same among those with and without Down syndrome, although the behaviors may be more frequent or intense in children with Down syndrome. These behaviors occur most often in early childhood.[1] Some characteristics of developmentally appropriate behaviors include behaviors that are not overly time-consuming, don't interfere with routine, create enjoyment or sense of mastery, are habits the child want's to do, appear ordinary, become less important or change over time, and can be skipped or changed.[2]
Last updated: 7/29/2014

What may be causing my child's repetitive movements?

While we can not say what may be causing your daughter's behavior, in general possible causes of behavior changes in children with Down syndrome include vision or hearing problems, Celiac disease, sleep apnea, anemia, gastroesophageal reflux, constipation, depression, and anxiety.[3] As we mentioned above, some repetitive or compulsive behaviors are normal. We encourage you to discuss your daughter's behaviors with her healthcare provider.
Last updated: 7/29/2014

References
Other Names for this Disease
  • Down's syndrome
  • Trisomy 21
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.