Issue of Education Students with Down Syndrome

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Background Information

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, Down Syndrome is a “congenital condition characterized especially by developmental delays, usually mild to moderate impairment in cognitive function, short stature, upward slanting eyes, a flattened nasal bridge, broad hands with short fingers, decreased muscle tone, and by trisomy of the human chromosome numbered 21 (also called trisomy 21) (Merriam Webster Dictionary, n.d.).

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of Down syndrome is “each year, about 6,000 babies are born with down syndrome, which is 1 in every 700 babies born” also “in 2002, about 1 out of every 1000 children and teenagers (0 to 19 years old) living in the United States had Down syndrome” (CDCP 2017).

Usually students with this disability are in an inclusion classroom. My focus student is in a classroom with other students who have an IEP. However, when I was in high school, they had some students with down syndrome who would come into a regular classroom for a bit, but they mostly had their own classroom where they did their learning. However, for this disability, some students who have this may be in a resource classroom because it could have activities to help them learn.

Some social characteristics of students with Down syndrome, according to the Down Syndrome Western Australia (DSWA), “may display varying degrees of intelligible speech” (DSWA, 2018). The students may be able to talk a bit clearly, but from what I have observed, they usually have a hard time speaking. Another social characteristic is cognitive delay. According to a study done by Michael Horvat, types of cognitive delay found in a student with Down syndrome include, “attention delay, problem solving abnormalities, and learning and memory difficulty” (Horvat, 2016) Some academic characteristics include “generalizing the skills taught, developmental delay, short-term auditory, poor motor planning, long-term memory, poor visual scanning” (DSWA, 2018).

The focus student has the facial characteristics of down syndrome. Sometimes she has the mentality of a person with down syndrome also. The focus student conforms to the typical definition of down syndrome. Some social characteristics of the focus student include that she like to play make believe. She is very talkative with other students and likes to have them play make believe with her. Academically, she has to meet with a special teacher who works one on one with her. I also notice that their mom comes in sometimes and takes her to do a reading test in the library. The focus student mom comes and picks her up at 2:45 through a side door in the classroom. Another academic characteristic is that she has a teacher who comes into the classroom and really focuses on helping her understand the problem. She pats her hand to her top lip and sometimes uses her pencil to tap her lip.

One day, the focus student mother came into the classroom and took the focus student to the library to do the math work that the other students were working on in the classroom. It also seems the focus student has a two students who seems to help her keep on track and do all her work. The focus student also does not like art and her mom usually comes in and watches over her while the other classmates are in the art classroom. The focus student also sort of fast/slow talking and may have a bit of a stutter when they talk. The stutter mostly comes our when she is talking fast and it also takes her a bit of time to get out the sentence. I know that the teacher allows the focus student to sing a song at the end of the day if she had a good day. The focus student sometimes really doesn’t pay attention when the teacher is teaching and moves around in her seat.

When the teacher asks the students to sit on the floor, the focus student starts on the floor but ends up in a chair and then she sometimes goes back to the carpet. The teacher one day really had to work with her on the assignment because she kept getting distracted by things around her. Another social characteristic I saw was when she was talking to herself and someone said something to her she said she was talking to herself and to not interrupt. Overall, I feel as if the focus student has some of the characteristic of Down syndrome. She has the talking problem but it was sort of hard to see if she had the visual problems. Another characteristic the focus student has in the attention delay and problem solving abnormalities according to Horvat. There have been times where the teacher has to redirect the focus student to what is being taught and the focus student also has help from aids who come into the classroom.

Research Findings

According to the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), “students with Down syndrome have strong visual learning modalities” (NCSE, n.d.). Some types of visual learning modalities that can be used for students with this disability could be PowerPoints, when reading a story have pictures and illustrations, and maybe even finding someone reading a story online with pictures. Another strategy that could be used are “directly teach timetables, routines, and school rules” (NCSE, n.d.). This can be seen in the SPED classroom I am observing. I was told by the teacher that the focus student liked their routines and liked to have the schedule of what they were doing today presented in the front of the class. One other strategy I found was “structure learning and teaching opportunities to enable the student to engage in tasks with other students, who can act as appropriate role models” (NCSE, n.d.)

Again, this can be seen with the focus student. As mentioned before, the focus student has two girls who sit by them and they help the focus student pay attention in class and make sure the student is doing what they should be doing. Another strategy is “students with Down syndrome generally demonstrate good social skills, which can be constructively utilized to increase leaning and teaching opportunities” (NCSE, n.d.). As mentioned before, this focus student likes to play make believe, one time she pretended to be a yoga instructor, and usually gets their other classmates involved with her game. The teacher also uses this to her advantage because if the focus student does a good job during the day, they are able to “sing” a song in front of the class (I believe they pretend to be a famous singer).

One method of teaching a student with Down syndrome in a general education classroom is “ensuring the students has appropriate accommodations and modification” (Courtney, 2018) in the classroom because it allows them to be able to interact with the other students and it makes learning a bit easier for them. Also, even if you don’t have a student with Down syndrome, if one of your students has an IEP or another type of diagnosed learning disability, there should modification and accommodations for them to properly get the same education as a student without a disability.

According to a research done by Stephanie Lorenz, there are four goals a teacher should aim for to support a student with Down syndrome, “Keep withdrawal to a minimum and give the child access to as much of the normal curriculum as possible, encourage the child to become an independent learner, foster co-operative working with other children in the class, and work directly with the children themselves, at least once a week, and ideally daily” (Lorenz, 1999). These four points I feel are very important in a classroom, especially the one about giving the child a normal approach to the curriculum. Most teachers I have observed are good about not drawing to much attention to a student who may have a disability and they treat the student the same as a normal student. My focus student’s teacher is this way. The teacher never signals them out and really doesn’t change what they are learning.

According to the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) one way these students will transitions into adulthood is by “planning for it [transition] long before graduation” (NDSS, n.d.). There are also three most considered areas that a student with Down syndrome may go into. The first is “postsecondary education, which include academic programs or courses at a community college or other college/university, vocational or training programs i.e. apprenticeships and trade school, or innovation programs which is a combination of both the programs” (NDSS, n.d.).

The second is “employment, which includes competitive (applying for a job and works without support services), supported employment (individual works in an setting and receives support services from a job coach) and sheltered employment (individuals work in a self-contained setting with other who have disabilities without the integration of non-disabled workers)” (NDSS, n.d.). The most important point I got from the research was planning is essential in transitioning into adulthood for a child with Down syndrome.

My cooperating teacher really doesn’t have any specific teaching strategies for the focus student. The focus student usually leaves the class during the day to go into what I believe is a classroom where they work with a specialized teacher. One thing I did see wasn’t really a teaching strategy, but a reward. Sometimes if the focus student has been having a good day, they are allowed to sing a song from YouTube in front of the class as a “performance” of sorts. I have noticed that on some days the teacher will focus on the focus student and make sure she understands what the lesson is about.

Another sort of teaching strategy is; the teacher will tell the focus students to behave or they will lose their four. The student is graded on a scale from 1-4 and the teacher will use this to make the focus student behave. It sometimes works and sometimes it doesn’t. I personally feel that there could be more strategies the teacher can use with the focus student to help her understand what is being taught and also how to handle/ teach behavior to the student.

Reflection Section

I personally feel children with Down syndrome receive a good education in the general education classroom. When they are in this classroom, it gives them an opportunity to interact with “normal” students and builds their communication skills. Also, there are many teacher aids that go around the classrooms to give the students a bit more help and some one-on-one time. I also feel as if you need to have that special teacher who can really help the student. I remember when I was in high school and my Early Childhood teacher told us that it takes a special person to teach kindergarten. I feel as if this applies to any teacher that can teach a student with Down syndrome. I personally feel that you need a special teacher, taught to handle that person.

After having my SPED class and observing a SPED classroom, I feel a bit more prepared to assimilate a student with Down syndrome into my classroom. I also have a bit of experience being around someone with Down syndrome because my second or third cousin has it and seeing him deal with it gives me a personal insight.

An academic characteristic I would probably have a problem with is the cognitive delay, specifically learning and memory. Especially if I give a test and the student doesn’t really remember the answer. A social characteristic I would have problems with is speaking. I noticed with my focus that I was able to understand her but with my cousin who has Down syndrome, it is sometimes hard to understand him.

I learned from my focus student that even though you have a disability, especially Down syndrome, you can still act like a “normal” student and that you should never let the disability change you. I also learned that the focus student never let her disability get the best of her and she in a sense sort of embraced it.

Cite this paper

Issue of Education Students with Down Syndrome. (2021, Oct 08). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/issue-of-education-students-with-down-syndrome/



How can we help students with Down syndrome?
We can help students with Down syndrome by providing them with a supportive and inclusive environment. We can also provide them with resources and accommodations that will help them succeed in school.
What are the major issues related to Down syndrome?
The major issues related to Down syndrome are intellectual disability and a higher risk for certain medical conditions.
What problems with development might a Downs Syndrome child experience?
A Downs Syndrome child might experience problems with development such as cognitive delays and difficulty learning new skills.
Why do people with Down syndrome have trouble learning?
Verbal short-term memory The ability of children with Down syndrome to hold and process verbal information is not as good as their ability to hold and process visual information . These verbal short-term memory problems make it more difficult to learn new words and sentences.
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