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Keywords:

  • Down's syndrome;
  • behaviour;
  • maternal stress;
  • comparisons

The present study investigates the occurrence of daytime behaviour problems and mammal stress in a group of children with Down's syndrome (DS) compared with a group of their non-intellectually disabled siblings, a group of non-intellectually disabled children from the general population and a group of children with an intellectual disability other than Down's syndrome. The Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC) and the Malaise Inventory were completed by the mothers. Associations between daytime behaviour problems and maternal stress were also explored. Overall, the children with DS and the children with other intellectual disabilities showed significantly higher rates of behavioural disturbance on all five of the ABC subscales (Irritability, Lethargy, Stereotypies, Hyperactivity and Inappropriate Speech) and on the Total ABC score. However, the children with other intellectual disabilities also showed significantly higher scores than the children with DS on four of the ABC subscales: Irritability, Lethargy, Stereotypies and Hyperactivity, as well as the Total ABC score. The siblings and children from the general population showed very similar behaviour scores. A number of significant age and sex differences were found in the occurrence of daytime behaviour problems. Maternal stress was significantly higher in the group with other forms of intellectual disability than the other three groups, and a number of significant associations were found between parental ratings of daytime behaviour problems and maternal stress in all four samples. The implications of the findings are discussed, including the need for early assessment to minimize adverse effects on the child's development and on family life.