What is Down syndrome?

Down syndrome is a genetic condition caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21.  This extra copy changes how the body and brain develop, which can cause developmental differences for children.

What are some common speech and language characteristics of children with Down syndrome?

Differences in communication skills can vary from child to child, but research shows possible delays/differences in the following speech and language areas:

  • Receptive language (comprehension)
  • Expressive language
  • Strength, coordination and muscle tone in and around the face and mouth
  • Oral sensorimotor skills
  • Speech intelligibility, which may result from disturbances in voice, articulation, resonance, fluency, or prosody
  • Fluid in the ear, ear infections and hearing loss
  • Social/pragmatic skills

How can a speech-language pathologist help my child?

The communication profiles of children with Down syndrome are very different from the communication profiles of “late talkers,” therefore it’s crucial that a speech-language pathologist (SLP), specifically, be part of the early intervention team!  SLP’s are trained to assess and treat the wide variety of clinically and medically complex factors that impact speech and language development in children with Down syndrome.  SLP’s also have training specific to augmentative communication, which is important when planning and implementing a holistic communication approach.  All TEIS speech-language pathologists have earned a master’s degree in the field, are licensed by the state, and hold certifications from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

When should I seek help?

EARLY!  Families don’t have to wait to begin speech therapy until a certain age or until the child begins to talk.  There are many skills that can be supported well before that, and an SLP can individualize that treatment based on the child’s own needs. Many children with Down syndrome have a desire to communicate and understand language long before they begin to speak words.  An SLP can help the family use the child’s strengths to support communication development.

How are communication skills targeted at such a young age?

Communication is best learned within the context of everyday routines and real-life activities.  SLP’s team with parents and caregivers to practice speech and language skills throughout their day.  An SLP will guide the family to use specific strategies and find ones that work best for them in order to see the greatest gains.  TEIS is here to help your child reach their full potential!