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American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A 152A:2185–2192; DOI 10.1002/ajmg.a.33595


Understanding attitudes of the public toward people with Down syndrome is important because negative attitudes might create barriers to social integration, which can affect their success and quality of life. We used data from two 2008 U.S. surveys (HealthStyles© survey of adults 18 years or older and YouthStyles© survey of youth ages 9–18) that asked about attitudes toward people with Down syndrome, including attitudes toward educational and occupational inclusion and toward willingness to interact with people with Down syndrome. Results showed that many adults continue to hold negative attitudes toward people with Down syndrome: A quarter of respondents agreed that students with Down syndrome should go to special schools, nearly 30% agreed that including students with Down syndrome in typical educational settings is distracting, and 18% agreed that persons with Down syndrome in the workplace increase the chance for accidents. Negative attitudes were also held by many youth: 30% agreed that students with Down syndrome should go to separate schools, 27% were not willing to work with a student with Down syndrome on a class project, and nearly 40%indicated they would not be willing to spend time with a student with Down syndrome outside of school. Among both adult and youth, female sex and respondents with previous relationships with people with Down syndrome were consistently associated with more positive attitudes. These results may be helpful in the development of educational materials about Down syndrome and in guiding policies on educational and occupational inclusion.

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