Downs syndrome from a communication perspective - Integrated Treatment Services
Aims: To explore the relationship between communication and self-esteem in The prevalence of communication difficulties in people with Down syndrome is. When a child cannot communicate a parent can feel isolated and even rejected by the child. This can lead to problems in the relationship between parent and. Speech and language present many challenges for children with Down Many children with Down syndrome understand the relationship between a word and.
All around the world people will be trying to raise awareness of the condition and indeed celebrating differences. The theme for this year is My Voice, My Community. So, in the spirit of that, let me share with you some things you may or may not know about Down syndrome from a communication perspective.
Did you know that people with DS have a particular communication profile? Children with Down syndrome usually have an uneven profile of social, cognitive and language development, they do not have a profile of equal delay in all areas, and they have a profile of strengths and weaknesses.
For example, social development and social understanding is typically a strength, while spoken language development is a weakness. There is now consistent evidence that these children have a profile of specific speech and language delay relative to their non-verbal mental age.
There are considerable individual differences in rates of progress but the overall specific profile is usually evident for all children with Down syndrome. Research and clinical experience demonstrate that some areas of language are generally more difficult for children with Down syndrome while other areas are relatively easier.
Their receptive language is usually superior to their expressive language skills. Most children with Down syndrome are able to understand much, much more than they can express. As a result, their test scores for receptive language are higher than for expressive language. This is known as the receptive-expressive gap.
Children with Down syndrome have strengths in the area of vocabulary and pragmatics social interactive language. They often develop a rich and varied vocabulary as they mature.
When we are learning language we generally see an object and hear a sound string and then we match the two together and store it and its meaning in our brains. The child then matches the two things together, red, shiny object and sounds b, a, l, l and attributes meaning to it. This process is dependent on the ability to hear sounds, remember them temporarily and then link together to form meaning. We refer to this as the phonological loop.
For all children, the phonological loop is thought to play a critical role in learning a spoken language, but we know that children with Down syndrome often have poor auditory short-term memory and auditory processing can be an area of weakness too.
However, while auditory short- term memory and auditory processing can be areas of weakness, children with Down syndrome often have excellent visual memory.
Seeing words and images associated with sounds can help speech and language develop. How can we help the child to communicate? It is very important to talk to the child all the time, even if the child does not talk back to you.
Here is a list of things you can do to encourage the child to communicate.
Down Syndrome South Africa
Remember, communication should be fun and play time is the best time to teach language. This encourages the conversation. It shows that you are listening.
Repeat words and movements to your child.
Ask open-ended questions to keep the conversation going. The use of questions, giving choices and explanations will lead to children who do the same. Have fun interacting with him and then he will want to do it more often. Joint attention Babies are good at creating situations for learning language. This is when the baby and the carer are looking at the same object e. The baby draws the attention of the carer to the object by either holding it up or pointing. The carer then talks about it.
The more children are talked to in situations like these, the faster they learn to talk. Play activities and book reading Studies have shown that the language parents use when joining in play activities and reading books with children provides the richest sources of language experience for their children. Learning from regular repetition in social situations e. The learning of grammar and vocabulary is also influenced by being read to and by learning to read.
This is because in books sentences are written with complete grammar while in conversations the use of grammar is often shortened.
Language Characteristics of Individuals with Down Syndrome
Social learning with other children As children move beyond the family to preschool and other school settings, the opportunities to communicate with a wide range of partners develop. The quantity and quality of these social opportunities, particularly with peers, will also influence all aspects of speech and language development.
However, teachers and parents need to be vigilant. If the gap between the language level of the child with Down syndrome and the peer group is too great, the child can be discouraged and communicate less.
With sensitive mediation from either the teacher or the parent, situations can be engineered where communication skills will be practised and will develop. Is there a critical period for learning language?
Apparently the brain is most ready for speech and language learning between birth and 6 to 8 years and the ability to learn language lessens after this. What should be understood is that there is no reason for speech and language skills to steadily progress into adult life. However, if some control over both grammar and speech production is not in place by six years of age, then the child may never attain the fully sophisticated control over these aspects that most of us take for granted.
Some researchers suggest that the parts of the brain that would be used especially to control grammar and speech production would be used for something else if grammar does not develop.
This fact emphasises the importance of early language intervention. Parents, therapists and teachers should therefore realise the importance of ensuring that children are exposed to both listening to and saying grammatically correct sentences by 5 years of age if possible.
This can be done by reading to a child who is not yet able to use sentences. There is also evidence that a child needs to have a word vocabulary before the learning of grammar can begin. If the above statement is true, then it is important to try and teach a language delayed child a word vocabulary before the age of 5 or 6 years and probably earlier. Some ideas for attempting to improve the development of speech and language in children with Down syndrome Children with Down syndrome want to communicate.
They do so effectively from the early years and use gestures to compensate for their difficulties with spoken language. They will benefit from therapy directed toward motor control of the tongue, mouth and vocal tract as well as exercises emphasising rhythm and pacing, awareness and control of starting and stopping gestures and sounds and of gradually or abruptly increasing and decreasing their speed and volume.
This will be particularly helpful for early vocabulary when it is mainly nouns and verbs that are being learned. Later specific teaching of early grammar and sentence meanings may also help to accelerate learning.
Therapy aimed at increasing oral-motor control from infancy will help articulation but there is no evidence that surgery for tongue reduction improves speech. This affects the learning of words and grammar. There is some evidence that memory training can increase the short-term memory spans for these children.
This increases the rate at which grammar is learned.