Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Communicative Disorders

Degree Program

Communicative Disorders, MS

Committee Chair

Smith, Alan

Committee Member

Williams, Rhonda

Committee Member

Arndt, Karen

Author's Keywords

Down syndrome; dementia of the Alzheimer’s type; physical therapy; occupational therapy; speech-language pathology


This non-experimental study utilized a convenience sample (N = 322) to investigate graduate students in physical therapy (PT), occupational therapy (OT), and speech-language pathology’ s (SLP) knowledge of the connection between Down syndrome and dementia of the Alzheimer's type (DAT). Ninety-two-point-five percent of participants were female, and 79.80% were white. All participants completed a survey comprised of items relating to information about general knowledge (i.e. facts) of the association between DS and DAT, the signs/symptoms that occur in each stage of dementia of the Alzheimer’s type for people with Down syndrome, and familiarity regarding the diagnosis and care. Descriptive and summary statistics indicated the persistence of misconceptions regarding the connection between DS and DAT among graduate students in PT, OT, and SLP training programs. Group comparisons were conducted to identify differences according to discipline (PT, OT, or SLP) and the relationship of knowing individuals diagnosed with DAT, DS, neither, or both. ANOVA analyses revealed knowledge of the stages of DAT as they relate to DS appeared stronger for OT students when compared to their PT peers; no statistically significant difference was noted per SLP students. Kruskall-Wallis and ANOVA analyses revealed no statistically significant difference in knowledge across disciplines regarding general knowledge about DS and DAT and familiarity of diagnosis and care parameters, respectively. Spearman’s rank correlation revealed a statistically significant result among the respondents’ connection to an individual with both DS and DAT and increased scores per accuracy of facts and familiarity (diagnosis and care) when compared to knowing someone with only DS or DAT.