Happy Down Syndrome Awareness Month, day 13! We are celebrating by posting information about Down syndrome each day in October.during the 31 for 21 challenge. Feel free to share these posts to help spread awareness and acceptance.
Speech is an area where most individuals with Down syndrome will have some struggles or delays. The range for children with Ds to say their first word is 1-4 years (typical range 1-3). The range for children with Ds saying two-word phrases is 2-7.5 years (typical range 15-32 months).
What is so very interesting is that receptive language for children with Ds is much higher than their expressive language. In other words, our kids understand much more than they can express. This continues on as they get older too. That is why it’s so important for individuals with Down syndrome to have a way to express what they want to say.
Think how frustrating it would be for you if you wanted to say something but didn’t have the words to do so. Children with Ds should be evaluated and start receiving speech therapy at least by 2 years old. Sign language is a wonderful way to help children with Ds communicate before they have developed the muscle tone and motor planning for speech. Since people with Down syndrome tend to be visual learners, Sign language is a more native language for them, than speech is. Teaching Sign combined with speech is called total communication and can help children speak sooner, and help develop receptive language skills. Signing Time is a great product designed to teach sign language to hearing children and can speed up the learning process. As children gain more speech they tend to drop signing.
Down syndrome advocate and reading specialist Natalie Hale said, "Giving your child a way to communicate with the world around them is the most important thing you can give them, besides love".
Just recently the University of Kansas in collaboration with the Vanderbilt University Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development found that children with Ds who undergo daily, instead of weekly, speech therapy sessions have larger spoken vocabularies. This study was the first to explain why increasing the frequency of speech therapy can improve speech acquisition in children with Ds. (The IDDRC Reporter: Frontiers in Down Syndrome Research)