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Child Health » Speech Therapy for Children with Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 21st chromosome in an individual’s cell. Genetically, this condition is known as Trisomy 21.
While there are many treatments for Down syndrome, it is not the condition to be cured. However, there are treatments and therapies for the physical, mental and cognitive problems associated with the syndrome.

Because children with Down syndrome often have small mouth and slightly enlarged tongues, they have trouble speaking clearly. During speech therapy, alternative modes of communication are used for communication like facial expressions, gestures, sign language, etc. Most children with Down syndrome require speech therapy early on.

Below are few of the instructions to treat children with Down syndrome:

• Start Early. Even before a child starts to speak, speech therapy can help to communicate through the alternative methods of communication.

• Concentrate on teaching Down syndrome children how to breathe properly.

• Talk to the therapist if the child has problems swallowing.

• Focus on developing vocabulary and focus on words that are easy to pronounce and don’t have double meaning that may confuse the child.

• Treat hearing disabilities if present. Being unable to hear well is one of the reasons why children with Down syndrome cannot communicate properly.

• Speech therapy can be extended at home also through the use of educational toys that focus on speech and vocabulary.

• Practice speaking with child about different topics to encourage eloquence and courage.

• Resist the urge to complete the child sentences. He should be allowed to work out the expression by himself, even if it takes him longer to get his thoughts across.
   
• Children who have Down syndrome and grow up in bilingual homes may have an even harder time grasping the basics of the language. Parents should stick to one language or find a therapist who specializes in bilingual languages.

Speech therapy is a great way to treat pronunciation problems and to give Down syndrome children the chance to better deal with their surroundings.

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