As with conditions such as Down’s syndrome and autism, these will affect each individual differently, but an early diagnosis and the right support can often help someone to deal with the effects of their condition and to reach their full potential.
- Fetal alcohol syndrome: Fetal alcohol syndrome is caused when a mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy, which is passed on to her unborn child in the womb. This can affect the development of the child’s brain and other organs. Each individual with the condition will be affected differently, and the effects can range from mild to severe. For support, and to find out more, visit the National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS-UK) website.
There are a number of genetic conditions that can result in an individual having a learning disability. Some are listed below, however there are many others which may also affect an individual’s development.
Some genetic conditions will be diagnosed by a genetic test – in some cases, this may be possible before birth. Family members may also decide to get tested to see if they are a ‘carrier’ of a certain gene. For any family, these tests can be an emotional experience, across different generations, so making sure you get the right information and support is vital.
Couples need a lot of support when considering having another child, particularly where there is a genetic or chromosomal risk.
- Angelman syndrome: is a genetic condition usually diagnosed in early childhood, when a child with the condition is likely to reach developmental milestones later than other children their age. The syndrome is characterised by a severe learning disability and difficulties with movement, speech and communication. For support, and to find out more, visit the Assert website.
- Cri du chat syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that is more common in girls than boys. Children with Cri du chat syndrome often reach their developmental milestones later than other children their age, and may have difficulties with speech and motor development and some behavioural difficulties. For support, and to find out more, contact the Cri du Chat Syndrome support group.
- Klinefelter’s syndrome is a condition that affects men with an extra ‘X’ chromosome. Not all men with the extra chromosome will be affected – and of those that are, the severity of their condition can vary. Common characteristics of the syndrome include a learning disability and speech and language difficulties, as well as other physical characteristics. For support, and to find out more, contact the Klinefelter's Syndrome Association UK.
- Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, also known as Lennox syndrome, is a form of epilepsy that develops in childhood. It is commonly diagnosed between the ages of three and five, and is characterised by different types and severity of seizures. Sometimes this will follow on from seizures in early infancy, and a condition known as West syndrome. For support, and to find out more, contact the Lennox-Gastaut Support Group on 01664 454 305.
The level of support we had to provide made us stronger as we had to learn to cope, to be resilient and executive.
- Prader–Willi syndrome is a rare genetic condition, with symptoms that can range from mild to severe. Children with the condition may take longer to reach certain developmental milestones than others their age, and some people with the syndrome may also have a mild, moderate or severe learning disability. For support, and to find out more, contact the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association.
- Rett syndrome is a neurogological condition that mainly affects girls, although boys can also have the syndrome. The condition is diagnosed with a genetic test, usually when a child is around one year old. This can be a very difficult process for parents, as in many cases their child will have developed during their first year but will then lose the skills they have acquired. Someone with Rett syndrome will have profound and multiple learning, and physical disabilities, and will need lifelong support. For parents, this makes getting the right help and support at every stage of their child’s life very important. For support, and to find out more, contact the Rett Syndrome Association UK.
- Smith-Magenis syndrome is a rare genetic condition that may result in a moderate to severe learning disability. Someone with the syndrome is likely to need ongoing support, but although their support needs can be high, people affected by the syndrome are often loving, caring and sociable. > Read a mother’s story about having a child with Smith-Magenis syndrome or for support, and to find out more, contact the Smith-Magenis Foundation.
My advice to other people would be to talk to people, to ask everything and everyone. Don't bottle things up, and shout if you need help.
- Velo cardio facial syndrome is a genetic condition related to DiGeorge syndrome, which may be characterised by a mild, moderate or severe learning disability. Children with these syndromes are often able to attend mainstream education, although some may need additional support. Moving into adulthood, each individual will need a different level of support according to their circumstances and the severity of their condition. For support, and to find out more, contact the Max Appeal.
- Williams syndrome is a genetic condition that will affect different individuals in different ways, but may cause a development al delay or a learning disability. Physical therapy and speech and language therapy can help individuals with the condition. For support, and to find out more, contact the Williams Syndrome Foundation.