This text contains a collection of papers presented at the 6th World Congress on Down's Syndrome, held in Madrid in October 1997. The papers focus on the scientific advances and therapeutic practices that make it possible for people with Down's syndrome to enjoy good health, to be recognized socially, to go to mainstream school, to have a job, to integrate in their community and to enjoy a better quality of life. The papers aim to reflect the dynamism of the Down's syndrome community at national and international levels, and the questions and solutions envisaged in many parts of the world. They also highlight the challenges for future concern.
The most important and urgent challenges discussed are: increased recognition of the syndromic specificity of Down's syndrome; better knowledge of the genetic mechanisms inducing Down's syndrome and of the individual variation at the genetic and epigenetic level (particularly brain development); more precise characterization of psychological, educational and social development in Down's syndrome individuals; continued improvement of medical care for the whole life cycle of Down's syndrome individuals; better and specialized school techniques and approaches for tracking literacy and computational skills in Down's syndrome children and adolescents; more effective ways of integrating Down syndrome individuals into society and making them feel and be fully-fledged members of our social structures; and adequate medical, psychological, and social care of ageing Down's syndrome persons.