Implications of learning profile – build on strengths, address areas of weakness
- Build on the social-emotional strengths of children with Down syndrome – learning is a social and interactive process – create a supportive, positive relationship and environment for learning
- Any hearing or visual impairments can seriously impact upon pupil learning – they should be treated and/or compensated for as early as possible, and checked regularly.
- Speech and language development should be explicitly targeted from infancy, and addressed throughout childhood and into adulthood
- Auditory memory difficulties should be compensated for by the use of visual supports and prompts wherever possible (signs, pictures, words). Activities designed to improve auditory memory skills should also be undertaken
- Reading should be taught from an early age, as it is the best way for children with Down syndrome to learn language (a visual route to language)
- When assessing the learning of children with Down syndrome and other children with language difficulties, give them opportunities to respond in non-verbal ways (pointing, choosing, matching, selecting)
- Provide plenty of opportunity to practice and develop motor skills
- Teach computer/IT skills – computers can be a very successful way of helping children with special educational needs to access the curriculum.
- Research indicates that it is possible to improve the speech, language and literacy skills of children with Down syndrome, and bring these skills more in line with their other skills (social skills, motor skills, etc.) – while the learning profile exists; it is not necessarily fixed and static. Inclusive education combined with focused interventions has been shown to produce academic and linguistic gains (Buckley, Bird & Sacks, 2006)
Adapted from Down Syndrome Education International