Svetla Angelova is an Early Child Development Consultant to the Early Intervention Program of Karin Dom. She has years of experience working with children with learning difficulties. She joined Karin Dom’s team in 2007 as a special pedagogue and speech therapist. Svetla will tell us about speech therapy in children with Down syndrome.
In a child with Down Syndrome, speech therapists should work from the earliest possible age for eating, kneading, chewing, swallowing, premeditation exercises; stimulation with a vibrating subject-massage; use of signs. Children with Down syndrome learn the language primarily visually. Gradually, the use of the signs is dropped after the child develops a speech.
Once the language of signs is dropped 2.5 – 3 years old, we begin to teach them to read: Children learn to speak; enrich the vocabulary; develop the memory; improve the grammar skills.
The sooner the child learns to read, the easier it is to get used to learning the school material. We do not teach the child to read quickly, but to learn more language skills and competencies. At a later stage, children with Down syndrome are reading for pleasure. In the initial stage, more visual hints, more visibility are used.
Educational and Behavioral Aspects: In some children with Down syndrome there is a developmental delay, which in each child is with different grade. About 8% of children with Down syndrome have severe mental retardation. Most of these children have additional disabilities that can cause mental retardation. 25-30% of children have an IQ of 80 to 100. They are deficient in development and not with mental retardation. They can study at a university and graduate.
It is important that children are integrated into a normal learning environment. If necessary, use the resource support service. All of these children have a good potential to learn something if they have a suitable environment. The problem is not in the children but in the education system. Every child has the right for education in a mainstream school.
In order to develop the potential of the child with Down syndrome, the following steps are needed: Early intervention; use of a signaling system for communication; early reading; integration into a kindergarten, school.
To love the child with Down syndrome, to include it in all activities in the family environment and in the society! This is one of the most important conditions for the child to develop its potential, Svetla Angelova says.
Photos: Karin Dom