What is Down's syndrome?
Down's syndrome is one of the most common chromosomal abnormalities – occurring once in about every 800 to 1000 live births. People have Down's syndrome because they are born with an extra chromosome, which gives them a typical combination of features in addition to their inherited characteristics. All have some degree of developmental delay (they will reach the normal milestones, but take longer to get there) and also some general difficulties with learning. There are also some common physical characteristics, such as a flat facial profile, an upward slant to the eyes and a single deep crease across the palm.
Some children with Down's syndrome have problems with hearing, circulation and respiratory infections. Pupils with Down's syndrome are usually happy and sociable and some grow up to lead independent lives.
What are the learning implications?
- delayed motor skills – fine and gross
- auditory and visual impairment
- speech and language impairment
- short-term auditory memory
- limited concentration span
- difficulties with thinking and reasoning, and applying knowledge to new situations
- sequencing difficulties
- slow pace of learning.
A TA can:
- encourage independence
- make sure the pupil understands the task
- make sure the rules are clear and apply them to pupils with Down's syndrome alongside their classmates
- speak directly to the pupil and reinforce what is said with facial expressions, pictures and concrete materials
- use simple and familiar language and short sentences
- give the pupil time to process language and form a response
- use short, clear instructions and check understanding
- provide additional practice to develop skills
- provide short listening activities and use visual/tactile materials to reinforce oral work
- set up regular and frequent opportunities for social communication
- make sure the pupil is working with others who are good role models.
- The SENCO or LEA educational psychology service
- Special schools
- The Down's Association, Langdon Down Centre, 2a Langdon Park, Teddington TW11 9PS; www.downs-syndrome.org.uk