Down Syndrome

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What to expect

Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder. This is evident form birth and is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome (Chromosome 21). Down syndrome usually affects both physical and cognitive (mental) ability. Children with Down syndrome will usually have speech and language delay / difficulties which can be supported by speech and language therapy.

What is Down syndrome?

Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder. This is a lifelong disorder and will often affect a child's cognitive and physical abilities.

Children with Down syndrome will often have a lower than average cognitive ability i.e. a lower IQ than their typically developing peers. Children with Down syndrome will usually have an additional learning / intellectual difficulty. Children with Down syndrome may have a mild, moderate or severe learning difficulty which can impact on their speech and language abilities.

Most children with Down syndrome will have better receptive (understanding) than expressive (verbal and written) communication. Use of gesture is an area of strength for children with Down syndrome. A child with Down syndrome will usually have delayed speech and language e.g. a more limited vocabulary than their typically developing peers and difficulty producing speech sounds. Such difficulties are supported well with speech and language therapy.

What causes Down syndrome?

Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder, caused by an extra chromosome (chromosome 21). Down syndrome is evident form birth.

What problems caused by Down syndrome can speech and language therapy help with?

A child with Down syndrome will usually have additional difficulties which can be supported well by speech and language therapy, these include:

How are speech and language difficulties identified in children with Down syndrome?

The speech and language therapist will carry out an initial assessment to determine what speech and language difficulties your child may have. An initial assessment will include the following:

  • A general conversation with you about your child's speech and language difficulties and any concerns you may have.
  • A case history of your child's development
  • An observation of your child's speech, language and interaction skills.
  • A detailed assessment of your child's speech and language skills e.g. getting your child to name pictures, follow instructions etc.

How does speech and language therapy help children with Down syndrome?

It has been found that children with Down syndrome will continue to make more progress when receiving speech and language therapy. Speech and language therapy uses the child's areas of strength i.e. understanding and visual strengths to help support the child's expressive language and speech difficulties. Therapy will usually work on improving the child's speech sounds and vocabulary, this is often supported with gesture and visual aids. In cases where a child with Down syndrome has little or no speech, the speech and language therapist may use alternative and augmentative communication e.g. sign language or visual aids.

Speech and language therapy is effective for children with Down syndrome and will help them to communicate to the best of their ability in many different environments e.g. school and home.

What would speech and language therapy treatment for a child with Down syndrome involve?

A detailed assessment of your child's speech and language skills will be carried out by the speech and language therapist. This assessment will contribute to the decision on what the best treatment option is for your child's specific needs. Speech and language therapy may include:

An initial assessment carried out by one of our speech and language therapists will highlight any worries and difficulties concerning communication and speech. It will also provide a chance for you to discuss any concerns you may have, and allow you to share what you would like to work on and improve.

How do I arrange a speech and language therapy assessment for Down syndrome?

An assessment with one our speech and language therapists can be arranged by emailing office@slt.co.uk or calling 0330 0885 643.

Summary

Down syndrome is a lifelong disability and a child with Down syndrome will often need support with their speech and language throughout their life. Children with Down syndrome usually have good understanding but present with difficulties in their expressive language and speech. These difficulties may affect their ability to effectively communicate in the school and home environments. Speech and language therapy can help to support these difficulties and help your child to effectively communicate to their best potential. If you feel you and your child may benefit from speech and language therapy then please do not hesitate to contact us by emailing office@slt.co.uk or calling 0330 0885 643.


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To speak to a Speech and Language Therapist or to book an appointment, call us on 0161 883 0111 or email office@slt.co.uk

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