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For people with Down syndrome, family members, caregivers and professionals.

Long COVID in Adults with Intellectual Disabilities

October 2022 | Brian Chicoine, MD - Medical Director, Adult Down Syndrome Center

A complication of having COVID-19 infection is a condition called long COVID (it has also been called long-haul COVID, chronic COVID, post-COVID conditions, and others). The National Task Group on Intellectual Disabilities and Dementia Practices (NTG) has provided a summary of the current understanding of long COVID in adults with intellectual disabilities: NTG Advisory on Long COVID and Impact on Cognitive Function in Adults with Intellectual Disability opens in new window

I have highlighted and commented on some of the points from the summary below:

  • Long COVID is a condition in which there are residual, persistent symptoms after having been infected with the COVID-19 virus.

  • ‘Brain fog’ (problems with thinking, motivation, and carrying out life activities) can be part of long COVID.

  • Adults with intellectual disabilities who were infected with the COVID-19 virus may experience long COVID.

  • There is much we don’t know and much to learn about long COVID.

  • Unfortunately, even less is known about long COVID in people with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities.

  • NTG recommends providing “compensatory aid for ‘brain fog’ and general cognitive impairment, as would be applicable with someone with mild cognitive impairment or dementia.”

  • It may be difficult to determine whether the cause of a change is due to long COVID or due to mental health and cognitive changes caused by prolonged isolation and reduction in stimulating activities. A variety of other conditions (some of which are potentially reversible) can also cause a decline in skills in individuals with Down syndrome. A good assessment is indicated to determine what is causing the symptoms. 


Additional resources

Long-COVID and Intellectual Disability Bibliography (NTG)

COVID-19 resources (ADSC Resource Library)

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Please note: The information on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for a medical, psychiatric, mental health, or behavioral evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment plan by a qualified professional. We recommend you review the educational material with your health providers regarding the specifics of your health care needs.