Down’s syndrome is a chromosomal condition that usually causes a child to have some degree of learning disability, delayed development as well as having physical features that are associated with the condition.
Children with Down’s syndrome may experience difficulty or delay with their speech, language and communication skills at home or at school.
Our speech and language therapists can help to reduce such difficulties by providing an assessment of skills and abilities and producing a therapy programme that is individual to your child
What exactly is Down’s syndrome?
Down’s syndrome is a genetic condition that is the result of an extra chromosome. It affects a child’s development and usually causes children to have some level of learning disability. Many children with Down’s syndrome have similar physical attributes.
Some physical attributes include:
- Hypertonia- floppiness due to decreased muscle tone.
- A protruding tongue and a small mouth.
- Flattened facial features.
- Weight and length of the child is below average at birth.
- Eyes that slant in an upwards and outwards manner.
- The back of the head appears to be flat.
What causes Down’s syndrome?
Down’s syndrome is a genetic condition that is caused by the occurrence of an extra copy of a chromosome in the child’s cells. The chromosome is called chromosome 21. It is not known to what causes this extra chromosome. It is not a hereditary condition that is passed on through the family genes. Down’s syndrome is not the result of something that may have happened during pregnancy or while giving birth. Research suggests, mothers aged 40 years and above are more likely to give birth to a child with Down’s syndrome than a young mother.
In England there are approximately 60,000 people with Down’s syndrome. In the United Kingdom it is estimated that 750 children a year are born with Down’s syndrome and that in every 1,000 children who are born there is one child with Down’s syndrome.
Services for Special needs schools
We provide services to special needs schools. Your school will be provided with an enthusiastic speech and language therapist that is able to dedicate part of their time to improving speech, language and communication outcomes for the pupils throughout the special needs setting.
- Universal approach
- Therapy based on child's needs
- Better outcomes for pupils
Symptoms associated with Down’s syndrome
Children with Down’s syndrome generally follow a certain profile for speech, language and communication difficulties. Research suggests that children with Down’s syndrome have stronger receptive language skills than expressive language skills. Speech intelligibility generally being the greatest area of need. Children are individual and therefore the difficulties they present with vary in severity and do not have to comply with the general profile.
- Small attention period.
- Poor judgment.
- Impulsive behavior.
- Delayed learning skills.
- Delayed receptive and expressive language development.
- Difficulty with syntax.
- Speech difficulties due to physical attributes of the oral cavity, tongue and palate.
- Delayed speech development.
- Increased chances of hearing loss.
- Difficulties with social communication.
How does Down’s syndrome impact upon function?
Speech, language and communication skills are essential to the development of many cognitive abilities such as reasoning, recalling, thinking and social interaction. They are also vital for everyday life around school and home life. The impact of such difficulties can have a great effect on the development of a child with Down’s syndrome. Some difficulties children may experience on an everyday basis include:
- Difficulties making friendships.
- Difficulty expressing their thoughts and feelings due to unintelligible speech.
- Difficulty being understood by others.
- Difficulties with developing literacy skills.
- Difficulties accessing the curriculum.
Such difficulties can impact upon a child’s general development and well-being. Our speech and language therapists can help to decrease the level of difficulty by providing a therapy programme that is unique to the difficulties your child is experiencing.
Speech and language therapy assessments suitable for Down’s syndrome
An assessment of a child’s speech, language and communication skills will be carried out by our speech and language therapists to see how it affects your child’s development and interaction abilities. The assessments chosen by our speech and language therapist will vary on what it assesses according the abilities and needs of your child. There are both formal and informal assessments available these will be selected according to the abilities of your child.
Assessments available include:
- Expressive language assessments.
- Receptive language assessments.
- Speech sound assessments.
- Social communication assessments.
- Eating, drinking and swallowing assessments.
Speech and language therapy available for Down’s syndrome
Speech and language therapy can be beneficial to children with Down’s syndrome as it can increase a child’s development across several areas. Our speech and language therapists can assess your child’s needs and provide a therapy programme that is distinctive to your child’s speech, language and communication difficulties. Our speech and language therapists will include your child’s motivation as well as yours, your child’s and their school's priorities and goals.
A child with Down’s syndrome may be able to understand more than they are able to express. Our speech and language therapists can help to increase their ability to express what they are feeling by increasing their vocabulary and developing a language programme that works on their expressive language and syntax skills. Our speech and language therapists can also work on increasing your child’s intelligibility to enable them to express more of their thoughts and feelings and to be understood while doing this.
Therapy we provide include:
- Receptive language programmes.
- Expressive language programmes.
- Speech sound development.
- Social communication programmes.
- Eating, drinking and swallowing advice.
- Group therapy.
- Individual therapy.
- Support, training and advice for parents, carers, schools and other professionals.
Our speech and language therapists can help to increase the quality of life for children with Down’s syndrome by increasing their communication skills using a therapy programme that is developed to work towards their goals.