Improving the speech and language skills of children and teenagers with Down syndrome

Sue Buckley


The aim of this article is to provide those in daily contact with children and adolescents with Down syndrome, including parents, teachers, classroom assistants and pre-school staff, with information that will enable them to help the children to talk more and to talk more effectively. It will also explain the need to take account of the children’s speech and language difficulties when involving them in classroom and school activities, and when teaching them to read. The article should also be useful to speech and language therapists, as it provides a guide to recent research and sets out the principles that should inform speech and language therapy programmes for children and adolescents with Down syndrome, drawn from that research.

Since I last reviewed the information available on this topic in 1993 [1], there have been many important papers [2-8] and book chapters [9-22] published on speech and language development, and several books [23-25]. These publications have all contributed is some way to an increased understanding of the language learning needs of children with Down syndrome and there is now considerable agreement among the experts on the principles which might guide effective interventions [2/5/10-13/25-27].

The title of my 1993 article was ‘Language development in children with Down syndrome: reasons for optimism’. I am even more optimistic as a result of the new information available now. The evidence suggests that most children and adults with Down syndrome could be talking more, talking more clearly and talking in longer sentences if we could provide those in daily contact with them with relevant practical guidance.

This does not mean that everyone should be working all day, everyday, on intensive language teaching activities, though in our experience, some structured teaching each day is important and I will return to this later in the article. It means that we can probably all improve the effectiveness of most of the normal everyday interactions that we have with children with Down syndrome, as parents, teachers and carers. If we have some insight into how children learn to talk and into the specific difficulties that may be slowing up this process for children with Down syndrome, we can create a more effective language learning environment.

At The Sarah Duffen Centre, we provide speech and language intervention through early development group sessions for children from birth to five years. We have also been engaged in research in this field for almost twenty years, so in writing this article, I am drawing on our own practical and research experience [28-34] as well as the published literature.

The article will address the following questions:-

  1. How do children learn to talk?
  2. What is the typical profile of speech and language development for children with Down syndrome?
  3. How much do children with Down syndrome vary in their progress?
  4. What does recent research tell us about the possible reasons for the delays and difficulties with talking experienced by most children with Down syndrome?
  5. Does the research provide any guiding principles that should inform intervention activities?
  6. What are the practical implications of this research for those caring for or teaching babies, toddlers, preschoolers, or children in primary school, junior school, secondary school or college?

Original article:

Open the window of your heart


If you cannot open the door
Of your heart
To let me in,
Open the window,
And let me slip in;
As I peep through the window
Of my heart,
And catch a glimpse of your sweet face;
I know right away,
I cannot do without you;
I was carved for you;
And you were carved for me;
Does your heart not yearn for me
As mine does for you?
If you cannot open the door
Of your heart
To let me in,
Open the window
And let me slip in.


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

View original post

3 Habits of People Who Achieve Their Dreams

By Kyle Hunt

Ever since I was a little child I’ve thought about how far my dreams can really take me. I’ve spent most of my life working toward my dreams: the dream of finding a fulfilling relationship, a career that I’m passionate about, a body that I’m proud of and spiritual abundance that can comfort me in times of need. I spend hours of my time everyday, every week, and every year taking steps toward achieving those dreams, and I can honestly say that I’ve been able to accomplish a lot of the things I’ve set out to do.

The key to achieving your dreams is to have a detailed plan that will allow you to form good habits along the way. All the successful people I’ve met in my life have a certain pattern for the way they do things, and those patterns end up translating into habits that stand the test of time. If you want to achieve your dreams, then I’d suggest making these 3 habits a part of your life.

#1: They Fight for Their Dreams All Day Everyday

If there is anything I know about people who achieve their dreams, it’s that they fight for their dreams like their life depends on it. They live life to the fullest and love what they do, but they know that if they aren’t spending an adequate amount of time everyday getting closer to their goals, then someone else out there is. They realize that they can’t spend hours everyday lounging on the couch or surfing the web—they have to act!

#2: They Take Care of Themselves Physically, Mentally and Spiritually

Following your dreams can take a toll on your body and your soul, but those who know how to achieve their dreams understand that if they don’t take care of themselves physically, mentally and spiritually, they won’t make it through. If you want to perform at your peak, you need to follow a clean diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables and healthy protein. You also need to exercise at least a few times per week. And lastly, you need to get in touch with your spiritual side—going to a religious ceremony or even practicing regular meditation can do the trick.

#3: They Will do What Others Will Not

When I say this, I’m not talking about lying, cheating or stealing to get to the top, but people that achieve their dreams are always willing to go the extra mile when others only want to rest. If you want to achieve your dreams, you have to learn how to be ferocious about chasing what you want. Sometimes you’ll have to sacrifice free time to work another hour or finish up a project, but that’s ok, because it will put you one step closer to achieving your dreams.

Original post: