Teenagers with Down syndrome are not simply developmentally delayed but have a specific learning profile. When planning and differentiating programmes of work for the pupil with Down syndrome, the characteristic learning profile, together with the individual needs and variations of that pupil should be considered, and matched to the subject matter. Please see the Learning Profile section which gives details of the specific cognitive profile of people with Down syndrome. Just as in primary school, the continued development of functional literacy & numeracy skills is of particular importance. Differentiation of teaching style and lesson content promotes greater access to the curriculum for all students, including students with special educational needs. Consideration must be given to the necessity for teenagers with Down syndrome to:
- make progress with their cognitive, speech, language and academic skills, and prepare for the future
- become as independent as possible in their personal care and social lives
- develop a positive self-identity, self-confidence and self-esteem
- develop a network of friends, personal relationships and leisure interests
Adapted from Down Syndrome Education International
How much of the curriculum is appropriate for a pupil with Down’s syndrome to study will vary with each individual, and there should be a degree of flexibility wherever possible, in terms of approach and content. Curriculum planning at this stage may involve drawing upon a wide range of materials and covering key topics and concepts at a level appropriate to the pupil. It may be that during a whole class lesson with several main points, the pupil with Down’s syndrome should focus on one key point only. “Good differentiation, careful grouping and peer support, additional adult support when necessary and additional use of visual and concrete resources can all help the pupil with Down’s syndrome gain some knowledge, skills and understanding from most lessons” (from Down’s Syndrome Association UK).