Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Laura Swain

Second Advisor

Maureen Carrigan

Third Advisor

Alexandra E. Roach


Introduction: Down syndrome (DS) is a developmental disorder caused by a complete extra copy of chromosome 21. This genetic error results in a variety of other symptoms related to a range of medical and cognitive challenges. Although it has been reported that a significant relationship exists between cognitive functioning and both internalizing and externalizing behaviors in typically developing (TD) individuals, the literature is severely limited in investigating this relationship in those with DS.

Rationale: Internalizing and externalizing behaviors have been shown to have a negative relationship with cognitive functioning in TD children and adolescents (Shankman et al., 2010; Wood et al., 2006). The study examined the relationship between cognitive functioning in the areas of attention and working memory, and internalizing and externalizing behaviors in children and adolescents with DS.

Method: Nine children and adolescents with DS between the ages of 10-18 years old were recruited to participate in the study. A control group of eleven TD children and adolescents between the ages of 10-18 years old was also assessed. All participants completed digit span as a measure of working memory, as well as the Animal Stroop task as a measure of attention (Wechsler, 1997; Wright et al., 2003). Caregivers completed the Child Behavior Checklist to assess internalizing and externalizing behaviors of participants (Achenbach & Rescorla, 2001).

Discussion: My findings suggest that weaknesses in attention are significantly positively associated with social problems, maladaptive thought patterns and somatization in children and adolescents with DS. My study therefore highlights the need for implementing interventions related to maladaptive thought patterns and internalized apprehensiveness regarding physical health that children and adolescents with DS experience.