Rapid assessment of cognitive function in down syndrome across intellectual level and dementia status

D. M. Walsh, E. Doran, W. Silverman, A. Tournay, N. Movsesyan, I. T. Lott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Adults with Down syndrome (DS) are at risk of developing dementia and cognitive assessment is a fundamental part of the diagnostic process. Previously, we developed a Rapid Assessment for Developmental Disabilities (RADD), a brief, broadly focused direct test of cognition. In the current report, we assess whether the RADD is sensitive to dementia in DS and the degree to which it compares with other cognitive measures of dementia in this population. Methods: In a sample of 114 individuals with DS, with dementia diagnosed in 62%, the RADD was compared with the Dementia Questionnaire for Mentally Retarded Persons (DMR), the Bristol Activities of Daily Living Scale, Severe Impairment Battery (SIB), and the Brief Praxis Test (BPT). Results: The RADD showed predicted effects across intellectual disability (ID) levels and dementia status (p<0.001). Six-month test-retest reliability for the subset of individuals without dementia was high (r(41)=0.95, p<0.001). Criterion-referenced validity was demonstrated by correlations between RADD scores and ID levels based upon prior intelligence testing and clinical diagnoses (rs(114)=0.67, p=0.001) and with other measures of cognitive skills, such as the BPT, SIB, and DMR-Sum of Cognitive scores (range 0.84 through 0.92). Using receiver operating characteristic curves for groups varying in pre-morbid severity of ID, the RADD exhibited high sensitivity (0.87) and specificity (0.81) in discriminating among individuals with and without dementia, although sensitivity was somewhat lower (0.73) for the subsample of dementia cases diagnosed no more than 2years prior to their RADD assessment. Conclusion: Taken together, findings indicated that the RADD, a relatively brief, easy-to-administer test for cognitive function assessment across ID levels and dementia status, would be a useful component of cognitive assessments for adults with DS, including assessments explicitly focused on dementia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1071-1079
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2015


  • Dementia
  • Down syndrome
  • Rapid cognitive assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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