Speech therapy for individuals with Down syndrome is designed to help improve communication skills, foster independence, and boost confidence. This form of therapy can help both children and adults with Down syndrome by providing many benefits, such as strong speech and language skills, improved articulation and phonology, better social skills, and, ultimately, an enhanced quality of life.
Down syndrome can affect communication in several ways, and speech therapy can help. If you or a loved one might benefit from speech therapy for Down syndrome, get started by scheduling your free introductory call today!
What Are the Communication Difficulties Associated With Down Syndrome?
Some of the most common communication difficulties that individuals with Down syndrome may experience include:
Challenges related to comprehending spoken language
Difficulty using spoken language to express their needs, ideas, thoughts, and feelings
Challenges related to understanding, interpreting, and using non-verbal cues and body language, including facial expressions and gestures
Difficulty noticing or understanding others’ emotions
Struggles with making or maintaining eye contact
These and other challenges can make it difficult for individuals with Down syndrome to effectively communicate with friends, family, educators, employers, and caregivers.
What is the Role of a Speech and Language Therapist in Down Syndrome?
The role of a speech therapist when working with an individual with Down syndrome is to encourage their independence and confidence through developing and improving essential communication skills. Each speech therapy treatment plan is created based on the specific challenges, goals, abilities, and capacity for improvement of each individual.
Speech therapy appointments might involve focusing on improving expressive language skills, such as how to correctly use words and sentences to express themself. Speech therapy for Down syndrome can also include working to improve the clarity of speech and make speech production in general easier. The speech and language pathologist may also focus on receptive language skills, which include understanding others, interpreting non-verbal cues, and engaging in conversation.
In some cases, the speech therapist may introduce “Augmentative and Alternative Communication” training (also referred to as AAC) which involves the use of picture boards and other devices to communicate needs, thoughts, and ideas.
Working on social skills is also often an element of speech therapy for Down syndrome. The therapist will help the individual learn how to appropriately interact with others and feel confident in social situations.
Do Kids With Down Syndrome Need Speech Therapy?
It is common for children with Down syndrome to have speech, language, and communication skills that are delayed relative to their peers who are developing normally. It is also common for children with Down syndrome to be incredibly social, and to use non-verbal communication skills for a longer period of time than their peers because of their delayed skills.
The primary goal of speech therapy for children with Down syndrome is to optimize their communication to their maximum potential, enabling them to effectively communicate at home, at school, and in social situations. While not every child with Down syndrome will need speech therapy, it is a key method of intervention for most children with DS, and the earlier they begin to receive speech therapy, the better the long-term outcome and possibility for an independent life in adulthood.
Speech Therapy for Adults with Down Syndrome
For adults with Down syndrome, it is essential that their communication skills are able to support their daily lives at home, at work, and within the community. While it is less common for adults to go to speech therapy, studies have shown that adults can drastically improve their speech and language skills through work with a speech and language pathologist.
Adults with Down syndrome must be able to ask for help if necessary, speak and socialize with
co-workers, caregivers, and family members, and be able to understand and follow directions at work. Their speech must be clear enough for others to understand. In expressive language skills, areas that can be evaluated and worked on during speech therapy are vocabulary, sentence formulation, asking and answering questions, and sharing essential information. The adult must be able to make requests and to ask for and offer clarifications when the meaning is not well understood.
Adults with Down syndrome typically do well with social interactive language, and they are able to use greetings, and automatic phrases (such as hello! And see you later!) very effectively. They may, however, have difficulty with basic conversational skills, and tend to have either short or rambling conversations
that often veer from the original topic.
Speech, articulation, phonology, oral motor skills, and childhood apraxia of speech can be evaluated and treated if needed. Other factors that can affect speech intelligibility, such as stuttering and voice problems sometimes occur in adults with Down syndrome.
If you are unsure if speech therapy is right for your child, adolescent, or adult with Down syndrome, connecting with a speech and language pathologist is the perfect next step. Connecting with us is as easy as scheduling your free introductory call today!
What Are the Benefits of Down Syndrome Speech Therapy
Speech therapy can greatly benefit children, teens, and adults who live with Down syndrome by improving communication skills.
Some of the most common benefits of speech therapy for Down syndrome include:
Enhanced Quality of Life
Preparation for Employment
Improved Family Relationships
Increased Confidence and Self-Esteem
Improved Behavioral Outcomes
How Can I Help My Child with Down Syndrome with Speech?
If you are a caregiver for a child or adolescent with Down syndrome, there are several things you can do to help support their communication development:
Encourage Communication as much as Possible
Model Strong Communication Skills
Encourage Regular Practice of Specific Skills
Create Opportunities for Successful Interactions
Seek Support from Other Caregivers
Encourage your Child to Join Community Groups or Activities
The Bottom Line
Speech therapy can be incredibly beneficial for the well-being and self-esteem of individuals with Down syndrome. It can help prepare them for an independent and fulfilling adult life, and ensure that they maximize their potential and ability to succeed and enjoy professional, personal, and social situations. The sooner you get started with speech therapy, the better. Don’t wait – schedule your free introductory call today!