Most children and adults with Down Syndrome understand more language than their expressive language skills suggest. As a result of poor expressive skills their understanding can also be underestimated.
Social interactive skills and non-verbal communication skills are usually a strength but speech production (articulation and phonology) is often a weakness. The use of gestures and signs to communicate is a positive step.
Children with Down Syndrome usually experience considerable delay and difficulties with learning to talk. There is a physical difficulty with speech production – first words are delayed and strings of words are difficult.
Children with Down Syndrome show the same progression from one word to two word combinations, once they can say between 50-100 words. They show the same progression to early grammar in their speech when they have a spoken vocabulary of 300-400 words. The delay in reaching a productive vocabulary of 300-400 words (at 5-6 years, instead of at 2-3 years) may affect the ability to master sophisticated grammar and phonology in later speech.
Vocabulary learning, while delayed, is also a strength but grammar learning is a weakness. Children tend to talk using keywords rather than complete sentences.
Progress in comprehension and production of vocabulary may be compromised by hearing difficulties. There is often specific difficulty with speech sound production and speech intelligibilty may be an issue.
Progress in sentence production and in complex grammar learning may be compromised by a weakness in short-term memory. Teenagers and adults may still communicate with short, telegraphic sentences.
Articles and Information
Speech Production in People with Down Syndrome by Monica Bray
Speech Therapy for Children with Down Syndrome by Libby Kumin
Down Syndrome and Cued Speech by Pamela Beck
Speech vocabulary and development charts http://www.talkingchild.com/speechchart.aspx
Cued Articulation Program http://shop.acer.edu.au/acer-shop/group/CUED
Speech Therapy – Computer Activities for Young Childrenhttp://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~bryanquinn/Inservice2004.htm
Schermerhorn, Will Discovery: Pathways to Better Speech for Children with Down Syndrome [DVD]
Miller, Jon F Improving the Communication of People with Down Syndrome
Buckley, Sue The Development of Language and Reading Skills in Children with Down Syndrome
Communication Without Speech : A Guide for Parents and Teachers
Godfrey, Debbie Enhancing Communication: A Guide to Communicating with Children Aged 5 Years and Over, Who Have Special Needs
Manolson, Ayala It Takes Two To Talk : A Parent’s Guide to Helping Children Communicate
Kumin, Libby Communication Skills in Children with Down Syndrome: A Guide for Parents
Kumin, Libby Classroom Language Skills for Children with Down Syndrome : A Guide for Parents and Teachers
Kumin, Libby What Did You Say? : A Guide to Speech Intelligibility in People with Down Syndrome [DVD]
Kumin, Libby Helping Children with Down Syndrome Communicate Better : Speech and Language Skills for Ages 6-14
Kumin, Libby Early Communication Skills in Children with Down Syndrome : A Guide for Parents and Professionals
Therapy Focus Helping Your Child Develop Communication Skills : A Self-training Package Containing a Manual, DVD and CD-Rom [kit]
Down Syndrome Education Trust Speech, Language and Literacy Development for Infants and Children with Down Syndrome
Understanding Down Syndrome – Learning to Talk [VIDEO]
Sometimes your child’s difficulty with speech cannot be attributed to developmental delay alone, but to a disorder that results in difficulty planning, coordinating, producing and sequencing speech sounds known as Childhood Apraxia of Speech.
Articles and Information
Childhood Apraxia of Speech Resource Guide by Libby Kumin
The following articles can be found in Disability Solutions – type in issue and volume numbers to view these back issues:
You Said It Yesterday, Why Not Now? Developmental Apraxia of Speech in Children and Adults with Down Syndrome Vol 5, Issue 2, Nov/Dec 2002
Speech Intelligibility and Childhood Verbal Apraxia in Children with Down Syndrome by Libby Kumin Vol 5, Issue 1, Jul/Aug 2002
Lessons By Abigail by Carrie Olson Vol 5, Issue 3, Jan/Feb 2003
Australian Dyspraxia Association Inc www.dyspraxia.com.au
Makaton is a form of Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) used with people who are unable to speak, are difficult to understand or have communication, language or learning problems.
Articles and Information
Makaton, Auslan, Signed English – What’s the Difference? by Karen Bloomberg
Using Your Hands to Talk : Key Word Signing by Karen Bloomberg
Makaton Signing for Children with Down Syndrome by Kerry Read
The Use of Signs by Children with Down syndrome by Marita Hopman
Teaching Sign Language by Claire Donovan
Down Syndrome Society of South Australia Australasian Dictionary of Sign
The Makaton Vocabulary Illustrated with Signs and Gestures
Irrabeena Makaton Vocabulary Australian Sign Match Stage 2 [VIDEO]
Irrabeena Makaton Vocabulary Australian Sign Match Stage 3 [VIDEO]
Variety Club of Tasmania Makaton Nursery Rhymes for Australasian Children [VIDEO]
Variety Club of Tasmania Songs, Fun… Action [VIDEO]
Down Syndrome Society of South Australia Song Book With Signs
Makaton Australia www.newcastle.edu.au/centre/sed/makaton/
Auslan signs and resources to download and purchase www.signplanet.net