Down Syndrome Speech Therapy

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What is Down Syndrome?

Down Syndrome Speech Therapy

Down syndrome (DS) is a genetic condition that causes both mental and physical developmental delays and is estimated to affect approximately 1 in every 700 babies born in the United States.
[1]Occurrence of Down syndrome Data and Statistics.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 Oct. 2014. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.

As with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down syndrome affects every child differently, though as a rule, children with DS tend to reach developmental milestones later than their peers. In terms of speech and language development, it is common for children with DS to experience speech delays, however most often they understand language and have a strong desire to communicate long before they are able to clearly form words on their own. That is to say that their receptive language is typically much stronger than expressive language.

These speech hindrances are often the result of hearing difficulties, physiological consequences of DS (hypotonia, small oral cavity, high arched palate, and respiratory difficulties), phonological challenges, as well as the weak processing of auditory information.

Signs and Symptoms of Down Syndrome

Down syndrome cannot be prevented but it can be detected in utero and is usually diagnosed shortly after the baby is born, if not before. There are numerous physical signs that will alert parents to the condition, such as low muscle tone (known as hypotonia), a broader face and flat nose bridge, small arched palate, etc.

During the early years of your child’s life, he or she may exhibit the following speech-language patterns, which may also be indicative of Down syndrome:

  • Constantly sticking his/her tongue out
  • Sucking or feeding problems
  • Delayed development of first words
  • Babbling lasts longer than usual
  • Use of shorter sentences to communicate

What causes Down Syndrome?

In most cases, Down syndrome is the result of the child receiving an extra chromosome (chromosome 21) during its earliest stages of development. This extraneous chromosome causes developmental delays as well as the physical attributes that are so often associated with Down syndrome.

Though scientists don’t know for sure why DS occurs, research does suggest that women over the age of 35 have a greater risk of conceiving a child with Down syndrome.

Treatment for Down Syndrome

While working with a SLP is crucial, children with DS need a dedicated team of supportive adults to help them acquire speech and language skills. That team generally includes speech-language pathologists, a pediatrician or family physician, teachers, and loving family members. Physicians are able to address any ear, nose, and throat conditions that arise, while SLPs create and deliver a specialized language-based curriculum to support the child’s learning.

Speech therapy for children with Down syndrome often begins with differentiating between speech sounds so that the child can create a mental archive of sounds before attempting to produce them. Meanwhile, oral motor skills will be reinforced by practicing simple actions such as blowing out candles, sucking through a straw, or biting down.

Children with Down syndrome tend to learn well with visual aids and benefit from seeing words and images associated with sounds. Therefore, with the help of speech sound cards and games, children will also learn to string multiple sounds together and steadily acquire new vocabulary.

While children with DS often experience some degree of intellectual impairment, they are very capable of developing their abilities and leading joyful lives. Because they reach goals at a different pace, it is particularly important not to compare them against siblings, classmates, or even other children with DS. For that reason, private speech-language therapy sessions conducted in a familiar environment are especially beneficial to them.

If your child is living with Down syndrome, finding a quality speech-language pathologist is a top priority. At Orlando Speech, our SLPs are experienced in treating a variety of speech-language disorders and do so with unparalleled skill and compassion. We are proud to provide mobile speech therapy services to the greater Orlando, Florida area including Dr. Phillips, Sand Lake, Lake Buena Vista, Ocoee, Windermere, Winter Garden, MetroWest, Oviedo, Waterford Lakes, Winter Park, and Maitland. Call us today to learn more about our Down syndrome speech therapy treatment programs.

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Our Speech-Language Pathologists Treat A Variety of Disorders With Unparalleled Skill And Compassion.

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