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Dual Diagnosis: Down Syndrome and Autism Support



DSCBA is committed to provide support for families whose children have an additional diagnosis such as autism. This group is also open to parents (or persons,) seeking more information about co-occurring Down syndrome and autism. This DSCBA Facebook group is called, DSCBA Dual Diagnosis Support. Bay Area Down Syndrome & Autism Alliance | Facebook  

This private Facebook Group is a place for families to ask questions, share advice, strategies resources, and experiences about the unique challenges, added stress, struggles and successes of raising a child with a dual diagnosis. The focus is on helping each other to find possible solutions, along with humorous stories, in a safe, non-judgmental environment.This group is open to parents, family members, caregivers, and others working with a child or adult having Down syndrome and autism in the Bay Area.


The DSCBA is happy to have a specialized resource on our team...Teresa Unnerstall.   Teresa is on the DSCBA staff working as the dual Diagnosis DS-ASD Consultant.Teresa is the author of A New Course: A Mother’s Journey Navigating Down Syndrome and Autism. She has also met and tackled many challenges with her son Nick over the past 26 years and has documented that journey in her book and in an amazing blog (Down Syndrome with a Slice of Autism) rich with empowering information, much of which you may be able to relate to and or benefit from. https://nickspecialneeds.com

Phone Consultation Hours: (Pacific Time) 630-341-3037

Mondays *3:00pm - 5:00pm

*Additional times, including weekends available by appointment: Text cell number above to arrange a time.

Email Consultation: tjunnerstall@comcast.net - (response within 48 hours)

The DSCBA is collaborating with Teresa on future webinars, workshops, retreats and other varying types of support opportunities based on the calls/emails she receives and your feedback.

Autism Speaks now has a landing page with great information about a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD). This information was composed by The Down Syndrome Medical Interest Group (DSMIG) with the latest information about DS-ASD. 

Click below to view:
Down Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder (DS-ASD) | Autism Speaks


More Information


A Picture is WorthPECS and Other Visual Communication Strategies in Autism, 2nd edition, Bondy, Andy and Lori Frost (Woodbine House, 2011).  An introduction to the Picture Exchange Communication System, which is used by many people with disabilities to communicate basic needs.

Activity Schedules for Children with AutismMcClannahan, Lynn, 2nd edition (Woodbine House, 2010). Covers how to use activity schedules to structure tasks and teach skills 

Assessment: A Case for Neurobiological Work-up in Autism, Vatter G (1998)

Autism Society of America- An organization dedicated to improving the lives of all affected by autism. www.autism-society.org

Autism SpeaksAn organization with the goal to change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders. www.autismspeaks.org

Creating Support for Families of Children With Down Syndrome With a Co-Diagnosis: A SurveyMedlen J (1999)

Catherine Whitcher- Nationwide speaker, advocate, trainer and IEP Consultant. catherinewhitcher.com

Charlie’s Clinic: The Down Syndrome Clinic of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals https://sites.google.com/view/charlies-clinic/learn-about-down-syndrome/autism

Down Syndrome and Autistic Spectrum Disorder: A Look at What We Know, George Capone, MD (1999)

Down Syndrome-Autism Connection- Non-profit organization serving individuals and families affected by both Down syndrome and autism spectrum disorders. www.ds-asd-connection.org

Down Syndrome-Autistic Spectrum Yahoo! Group

Down Syndrome & Pervasive Developmental DisordersNordhauser M (1997)

Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism- Blog and Facebook page by a parent who has a son with Down syndrome and autism. www.nickspecialneeds.com 

DSE Down Syndrome and Autism InformationDown Syndrome Education International summarizes educational research on children with Down syndrome and autism or an autistic spectrum disorder. www.dseinternational.org/en-us/education21/10/  

Kennedy Krieger InstituteBased in Baltimore, MD

National Association for the Dually Diagnosedthenadd.org

NDSS Down Syndrome and Autism Information- The National Down Syndrome Society provides an overview of Down syndrome and autism. www.ndss.org/Resources/Health-Care/Associated-Conditions/Dual-Diagnosis-of-Down-Syndrome--Autism/

Neuroanatomic Correlates of Autism and Stereotypy in Children With Down SyndromeCarter JC, Capone GT, Kaufmann WE (2008)

The Autism Discussion Page on Anxiety, Behavior, School and Parenting StrategiesA Toolbox for Helping Children Feel Safe, Accepted and Competent. Bill Nason (Jessica Kingsley, 2014). Autism Discussion Page on Facebook 

When Down Syndrome and Autism Intersect- Froehlke, Margaret and Robin Sattel Zaborek, editors (Woodbine House, 2013). Survey of best practices for diagnosing, treating and providing care to children with both Down syndrome and Autism.

A New Course: A Mother’s Journey Navigating Down Syndrome and Autism-Unnerstall, Teresa (Kat Biggie Press, 2020). https://amzn.to/2W3Un6X

Supporting Positive Behavior in Children and Teens with Down Syndrome-Stein, David (Woodbine House, 2016) https://www.woodbinehouse.com/product/supporting-positive-behavior-children-teens-down-syndrome/

Past Webinars

More Information

Past Webinars

ABA and Behavior Management to Support Individuals with a Dual Diagnosis of DS-ASD

AAC Systems and Strategies (Session 3)

Watch the recording of the presentation here: 

Structured Home Teaching Activities for DS-ASD Families (Session 2)

Watch the recording of the presentation here:


 The Dual Diagnosis of Down Syndrome & Autism Webinar (Session 1). 

Watch the recording of the presentation here:


Mid-Year School Check In

Presented by Teresa Unnerstall

Mid-Year School Check-In Webinar is a practical guide for parents working with the school staff and IEP team when checking in the mid-school year. The content includes specific questions to ask at the midway point regarding the progress of your child. The material will explore effective communication, reviewing the IEP, along with behavior and communication concerns related to having a child with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.