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Autism vs. Down Syndrome

The main difference between autism and Down syndrome is that autism is a complex neurobehavioral condition, whereas Down syndrome is a genetic disorder.

Key Differences

Autism is also called autism spectrum disorder, whereas Down syndrome is also called trisomy 21.
Autism can be diagnosed at an early stage of life on the other side; Down syndrome can be diagnosed in the womb of the mother.
Autism is a neurological disorder, whereas Down syndrome is a genetic disorder.
Autism shows no physical characteristics, whereas Down syndrome shows specific physical characteristics.
Janet White
Sep 05, 2023

Comparison Chart


Autism is a wide range of conditions which is characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behavior, speech, and non-verbal communication.
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder and is caused by the presence of all or part of the third copy of chromosome 21.

Other Name

Autism spectrum disorder
Trisomy 21


A neurological condition
A genetic condition


Three Types: 1. Autistic Disorder 2. Pervasive Development Disorder 3. Asperger syndrome
Three Types: 1. Trisomy 21 2. Mosaic Down Syndrome 3. Robertsonian Translocation
Harlon Moss
Sep 05, 2023


Can be diagnosed early in life
Can be diagnosed in the womb


Unknown causes may be the hereditary base
By the abnormal presence of third chromosome 21
Harlon Moss
Sep 05, 2023


No specific physical characteristics
Specific physical characteristics


Less affected people perform well in hard jobs
Can do jobs but perform well in easy tasks

Social Cues

No easily understood
Easily understood by this disorder
Harlon Moss
Sep 05, 2023

Autism and Down Syndrome Definitions


Autism spectrum disorder, especially a more severe form of the disorder characterized by significant impairments in social interaction and communication, highly repetitive behavior, and strong resistance to change.


(clinical psychology) A pervasive neurological condition that is observable in early childhood and persists throughout the lifespan, characterised by atypical communication, language development, eye contact, and sensory experiences.


(clinical psychology) autism spectrum (disorder); generalization of the specific to a range.


A diagnosis involving a pathological tendency to engage in self-centered fantasy thinking, historically considered a symptom of insanity and/or schizophrenia.


Abnormal and unhealthy focus or persistence, stereotypically coupled with low self-awareness and unhealthy hatred of opposition or criticism.


A mental disorder characterized by inability to engage in normal social interactions and intense self-absorption, and usually accompanied by other symptoms such as language dysfunctions and repetitive behavior.


Behavior showing an abnormal level of absorption with one's own thoughts and disregard for external realities.


(psychiatry) an abnormal absorption with the self; marked by communication disorders and short attention span and inability to treat others as people

Autism vs. Down syndrome

Autism, which is also called autism spectrum disorder, is a serious and complex neurobehavioral disorder in which problems in interacting, verbal communication, nonverbal communication, social, speech, and motor skills occur. On the other hand, Down syndrome is a genetic disorder which is also called trisomy 2. It is triggered by the third copy of chromosome 21 and affected people have a mental level of eight or nine years old child, but some live a normal life. People with autism show symptoms of the restricted repertoire of interests, behaviors, and activities, impaired reciprocal social interaction, impaired communication, seizures, abnormalities in eating or sleeping, and compulsive behavior. On the other hand, people with Down syndrome show flaccid muscles, bulging tongue, loss of hearing, obesity and immunity deficiency, eyes that slant upward and short neck, vision disorder, polycythemia, obstructive sleep apnoea and thickening of the skin of the soles and palms.

In treatment, applied behavior analysis, cognitive behavior therapy, sensory integration therapy, social skills training, occupational therapy, and speech therapy are included. Antipsychotics, antidepressants, stimulants, and anticonvulsants are medicines which are used in autism. Some potential alternative treatments such as gluten-free, melatonin, vitamin C, oxytocin, dimethylglycine, CBD oil, omega-3 fatty acid and vitamin B6, and magnesium in combination are also used. People with Down syndrome are also treated with different interventions and medicines. Interventions are early intervention and educational therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, exercise to help improve motor skills and behavioral therapy to help manage the emotional challenges, whereas medicines are amino acid supplements and piracetam.

What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or autism is a neurotype disorder whose causes are not known. The symptoms include weakened social cognition and interaction, sensitive power of sensation, and a limited focus of interests. Some people also suffer a delay in cognitive development. There are many other abnormal characteristics of autistic individuals, but it is not because of physical health problems. This disorder impairs their social interactions with others. There are three different types of Autism Spectrum Disorders namely;

  1. Autistic Disorder is also called as classic autism.
  2. Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD) which is also known as atypical autism. It is the milder form on the spectrum.
  3. Asperger syndrome is the high functioning on the autism spectrum.

Autism is not caused only by a single factor. There are many anomalies of the brain which govern this disease. However, this is linked to various medical conditions such as the absence of enzymes which are required for metabolic activity, congenital infections in the pregnant mother (German measles, cytomegalovirus, and toxoplasmosis), inflammation in the brain (encephalitis and bacterial meningitis) and tuberous sclerosis and fragile X syndrome and influenza.

What is Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome is a type of genetic disorder that results because of an altered chromosome setup. Its symptoms include delayed speech, learning disability, an upward slant to the eyes, delayed crawling and walking, intellectual disability, short stature, and specific facial features. Trisomy 21, Mosaic Down Syndrome and Robertsonian translocation are three types of Down syndrome. Trisomy 21 is a common chromosome disorder due to extra chromosome number 21. This variant accounts for 95% of Down syndrome cases. The remaining of 5% of this syndrome is because of conditions called Mosaicism syndrome and Robertsonian translocation. Mosaic Down syndrome is usually referred to as a percentage. Twenty different cells are assessed in a chromosome study. A child is suffering from Mosaic Down Syndrome if his five of the twenty cells has a typical number of forty-six chromosomes. The rest of the fifteen have a total of forty-seven chromosomes as a result of an extra chromosome twenty one. Robertsonian translocation is the standard form of chromosomal rearrangement and takes place when the participating chromosomes break at their centromeres and the longer arms fuses to form a single large chromosome with a single centromere.

Down syndrome is caused when abnormal cell division happens, and you get an extra or partial copy of genetic material from chromosome 21. The extra chromosome causes issues as the brain and physical features form. This disorder is not associated with anything in the internal environment or anything that parents did or did not.

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