Day occupation is associated with psychopathology for adolescents and young adults with Down syndrome
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Background: Young adults with Down syndrome experience increased rates of emotional and behavioural problems compared with the general population. Most adolescents with Down syndrome living in Western Australia participate in sheltered employment as their main day occupation. Relationship between day occupation and changes in behaviour has not been examined. Therefore, the aim of this research was to explore any relationship between post school day occupations and changes in the young person’s behaviour. Methods: The Down syndrome Needs Opinion Wishes database was used for case ascertainment of young adults aged 15 to 32 years with Down syndrome. Families of 118 young people in this population-based database completed questionnaires in 2004, 2009 and 2011. The questionnaires addressed both young person characteristics such as age, gender, presence of impairments, behaviour, functioning in activities of daily living, and family characteristics such as income and family functioning. Post-school day occupations in which the young people were participating included open and sheltered employment, training and day recreation programs. Change in behaviour of young adults who remained in the same post-school day occupation from 2009 to 2011 (n = 103) were examined in a linear regression model adjusting for confounding variables including age, gender, prior functioning and behaviour in 2004 and family income.Results: In comparison to those young adults attending open employment from 2009 to 2011, those attending day recreation programs were reported to experience worsening in behaviour both in the unadjusted (effect size -0.14, 95% CI -0.24, -0.05) and adjusted models (effect size -0.15, 95% CI -0.29, -0.01). Conclusions: We found that the behaviour of those participating in open employment improved compared to those attending other day occupations. Further examination of the direction of this association is required.
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