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Disabilities develop as family affair

Children born with Down syndrome and other disabilities face tough challenges in learning to care for themselves, communicate and socialize, and master schoolwork.

New findings, gleaned from the largest and longest investigation of its kind, offer a rare glimpse at specific ways in which family life either fosters or frustrates these kids' development.

The study, led by educator Penny Hauser-Cram of Boston College, also reveals some of the challenges faced by parents of these youngsters. As children with Down syndrome or two other disabilities approach adolescence, their parents experience a marked surge in feelings of stress, isolation, and depression related to child-rearing. This increase far outpaces any such trend observed among parents of children with no disability.

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