Book Chapter

A brief history of Down syndrome, key moments and reflections



Watchman K, Brown R, Kyrkou M & Hodapp R (2020) A brief history of Down syndrome, key moments and reflections. In: Burack JA, Edgin JO & Abbeduto L (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Down Syndrome and Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The chapter traces some key historical developments in the study of individuals with Down syndrome. After describing general issues of classification in intellectual disabilities, we describe Langdon Down’s identification of the syndrome in the 1860s; the movement to name the syndrome after Down; the identification of trisomy 21 as the syndrome’s cause; and the beginnings of sustained research attention to the syndrome. We end with a glimpse into the future, discussing issues of longer life spans, more integrated lives, and the roles of families, organizations, and self-advocates. Working together, researchers, practitioners, and individuals and their families can all continue to advance the lives of persons with Down syndrome.

Down Syndrome; history; research studies; practical application; developmental challenges; parents and families

Publication date31/12/2020
Publication date online31/12/2022
PublisherOxford University Press
Place of publicationOxford

People (1)


Professor Karen Watchman

Professor Karen Watchman

Professor, Health Sciences Stirling