Despite a lack of consistent empirical evidence, there has been an ongoing assumption that intellectual disability is associated with reduced levels of motivation. The participants in this study were 33 children with Down syndrome ages 10–15 years and 33 typically developing 3–8-year-old children. Motivation was measured through observational assessments of curiosity, preference for challenge, and persistence, as well as maternal reports. There were no significant group differences on motivation tasks, but mothers of children with Down syndrome rated their children significantly lower on motivation than did parents of typically developing children. There were some intriguing group differences in the pattern of correlations among observations and parent reports. The findings challenge long-held views that individuals with intellectual disability are invariably deficient in motivation.

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