Common Symptoms in Children

Klinefelter’s Syndrome (KS) is a spectrum condition – its effects vary enormously in both incidence and severity. Some children and adults may have few symptoms while others may be more affected. Children who have been diagnosed early and can access support from a speech therapist or in school, if needed, generally do better.

Symptoms occur often……. but not always!

Speech and language development disorders
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This is the most common effect and is seen in most youngsters. Language often is delayed and  some difficulty with receptive and expressive language  is common. The child may also have difficulty with articulation of sounds. Speech therapy can make a huge difference and should be implemented as early as possible especially as delayed language will have a detrimental effect on education and social interaction.

Tall stature
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Most KS youngsters are tall compared to their families but this does not mean that all are very tall! If family members are generally on the short side then the KS person may be of average height ie tall compared to the rest of the family.

Generally the legs and arms are long, but the trunk is shorter than is usual.

Learning difficulties
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Although most KS youngsters have an IQ in the normal range the majority do have some level of  learning difficulty. This is often associated with difficulty processing information particularly if it is presented verbally.

Write things down. Keep instructions and sentences simple.

Visual aids are very effective as these children often have enhanced visual skills – use of colour is particularly useful.

Support at school can help the child to reach their potential.

Poor short term memory and attention span
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Often KS children – and adults – find it very difficult to concentrate. Their short term memory is likely to be poor and they can be susceptible to noise. It is little wonder that they  can appear to be lazy and stupid when in fact they are likely to be as bright as their peers but have to work twice as hard just to keep up.

Limiting distractions and breaking work down into manageable chunks can help.

Possible brain differences may be the cause of problems with concentration. In addition, those with KS often have enhanced sensory perception and this may affect concentration. Sometimes  particularly acute hearing can make  general noise and bustle very distracting.  Others may be very aware of touch and find chafing clothing labels or texture are an added distraction.

Decreased muscle tone
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Many  KS babies have some degree of decreased muscle tone or floppiness which may require physiotherapy.

Genital differences
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There may be genital differences including: undescended testes (cryptorchidism),

an unusually small penis (micropenis)

the opening of the urethra being on the underside of the penis (hypospadias).

 

Poor self-expression
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Because of their poor expressive language skills they often have difficulty putting their thoughts, ideas and emotions into words. This can lead to considerable frustration. Always allow  time to gather thoughts – and to take in what has been said.  People with KS are likely to have a reflective approach to learning.

Dislike of sports - particularly team games
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Most do not enjoy team games possibly because they dislike the physicality but also because language and information processing problems may  cause difficulty in understanding rules. Poor coordination may be another drawback.

In addition, the use of communal changing rooms may be disliked as  physical differences are on view.

However many do well at individual sports such as swimming and cycling.

Autistic tendencies and poor social development.
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As language is essential for building and maintaining social relationships, the KS child may find it difficult to learn appropriate social behaviour. Many have autistic tendencies, finding it difficult to interpret social cues such as facial expressions and they may miss nuances of behaviour. Literal interpretation of language can also cause difficulties. Professional intervention can help considerably.

Lack of maturity
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KS children are usually less mature than their peers emotionally and socially. However they do continue to mature for longer and usually catch up. They are also likely to look younger than their peers   – an attribute they may appreciate more when they are older!

Dyspraxia
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Dyspraxia,  is common disorderand can affect planning, organising and carrying out movements in the right order in everyday situations as well as motor skills. Dyspraxia can also affect speech, perception and thought. Difficulties with memory and information processing are common.

Handwriting and general dexterity can be affected.

Next… Treatment