Down syndrome occurs in one out of every 700 babies in the United State, Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal condition affecting around 6,000 born babies each year. The typical outcome of language development has two stages, the pre-linguistic and linguistic. The pre-linguistic stage of language development is the children’s first ability to produce language, babbling, gesture use, imitation. The linguistic stage of language development includes phonology, semantics, syntax, and pragmatics Characteristics of Down syndrome The skills for auditory speech sound sequences is difficult for people with Down syndrome. Phonological decoding is to be a deficit cause for difficulties with auditory memory. “Typically, children with DS show good visual skills (Fidler, Most, & Guiberson, 2005), deficits in phonological awareness (Cossu, Rossini, & Marshall, 1993; Lemons & Fuchs, 2010) and a profile of stronger word recognition than decoding skills” (Hulme C. 2012). The evidence supported by poor performance on non-word repetition tasks compared to visual-spatial short-term memory or nonverbal skills.
Another area of cognition that proposes a challenge for children with Down syndrome is interpreting another individual’s theory of mind. Some more characteristics commonly connected to Down syndrome that may affect their language development are the otitis media and its effects on hearing abilities, and the oral motor structures and function of the ears. Otitis media, is an ear infection, in the middle of the ear that is typically common among people with Down syndrome. Due to the fact that they have narrow canals, “Otitis media is one cause of mild to moderate fluctuating conductive hearing loss when accompanied by middle ear fluid.
Children with Down syndrome may be particularly susceptible to otitis media, possibly due to narrow auditory canals and cranial facial differences seen in this population”(Roberts, J. E. 2009. There are a variety of differences observations to children with Down syndrome, muscle abnormalities of the face, and an enlarged tongue, these are some possible factors for a decrease in speech ability. Pre-linguistic Stage: Children with Down syndrome The pre-linguistic stage is a relatively short period for typically developing children, as it is a way to transition into verbal communication. According to Leonard Abbeduto, “Director of UC Davis MIND Institute” Children with Down syndrome may exceed the typical developmental period of six-eight months when transitioning into symbolic communication. Symbolic communication is referring to objects, not present at the time of communication. Meaning how the child gets his mom to get him the toy that he wants, “Mundy and colleagues (1988) reported that 18–48 month-old children with Down syndrome produced fewer nonverbal requests for objects or for help with objects than mental age-matched typically developing children.
In fact, more frequent nonverbal requests for objects or for repetition of events may be associated with better expressive language development later in children with Down syndrome (Roberts, J. E. 2009)”. They found out that children with down syndrome took about doubled the amount of the average child would take to communicate. The children who produced the motion of the objects that they wanted had a better chance of grasping the expressive language. Linguistic Stage: Children with Down syndrome Children with Down syndrome start with deficits in phonological awareness, is a skill that allows kids to recognize and work with the sounds of spoken language. It is typical for children with Down syndrome to have lower speech intelligibility than the average child. Children with Down syndrome begin to demonstrate phonological deficits when transitioning from babbling to speaking their first words.
Children with down syndrome speak their first words around 21 months. This is due to that fact that these children have a slower elimination time of phonological processing. Children with down syndrome still can recognize given means for words still, a “Research suggests that once a printed word is familiar, the brain recognizes it as a whole word and goes straight from print to meaning. So a child can learn to read successfully without having any understanding of letter-sound correspondences at all, providing someone is on hand to teach every new word. There is no limit to the size of the vocabulary that can be established in this ‘look and say’ way (Bird, G. 1993)”. Children with Down syndrome can learn some letter-sound rules themselves and they are able to tackle new words in their reading. According to Joanne Roberts, Ph.D., she made a claim of, speech intelligibility affected by phonological factors is a lifelong challenge for children with Down syndrome. Due to the fact that many factors are the cause, “sound error patterns, reduction of word shapes, apraxia, and dysarthria.
Other factors such as deviations in phrasing, rate, placement of sentence stress, and perceived voice quality (low pitch, hoarse, harsh voice) have also been reported among individuals with Down syndrome” (Malkin, C. (2007). Having a decrease in your ability to create speech, creates a communication barrier between you and other individuals around you. It may cause some children to have a negative affect on their development of appropriate language skills. Researchers tried to find a way to help these students improve their ability to create words. The largest study to this date is the Lemons and Fuchs. This study was on evaluating the efficacy of explicit on phonics instruction. They had trained teachers teach twice a day for a six week period with 24 children all who had Down syndrome. “The programmed composed teaching of letters, letter combinations, decodable words, sight words, and an intervention ‘story’. Each lesson was repeated for three days, and progress after each lesson was monitored using tests of letter-sound knowledge, decodable words and sight words.
In addition, to measure the transfer of learning, the ability to read non-words was measured. A series of growth curve analyses showed that by the end of the intervention, most children had gained in letter-sound skills and sight word reading, 16/24 children demonstrated growth in reading of decodable words, and 9/24 improved in non-word reading. (Lemons, C. (2008).” This study showed that the students with down syndrome did make some growth to their ability to create language that is understandable to correctly pronounce words. Even though all the students didn’t show huge improvements based on their data, this study was not a waste of time for the students. Those who didn’t show improvements now have a better understanding of the material, Their improvements might come as the students get older.
Technology supports Some children with Down syndrome may need some technology supports to help them keep up with their peers. Children with Down syndrome may take longer to develop language abilities. Introducing them to some transitional tools may increase their ability to communicate with others while decreasing their frustration, these tools are augmentative or alternative communication (AAC) device that can be a student’s primary way of communication or a short-term use that merely enhances verbal productions.
Another one is sign language students made find it easier to use sign language to communicate instead of trying to get people around them to understand what they are saying. There is also a device called an EPG which displays the timing and movement of the tongue’s contact with the hard a palette on the screen to watch the child’s moment of his mouth when he produces words/sounds. This tool gives the observer a clear picture of the child’s articulation patterns and may identify errors which cannot be detected an observer studying the child. Classroom usefulness This study was useful for me, as I want to become a special education teacher and may have a child with Down syndrome in my future classroom.
The information on how to help a children with Down syndrome in a classroom. Have plenty of simple printed text, picture cards and daily schedules for the students. Create simple directions and breaking down the directions into small steps, Model slow, clear speech for the student, if the student is talking too fast and have the student to repeat themselves if they are talking faster than they should. A child with down syndrome may learn best with these to types of phonics learning Implicit/analytic phonics focuses on analyzing letter and sound within familiar words. Students look at the whole word then analyze the sounds of each letter in the word. The other one is Explicit/synthetic phonics, which focuses on teaching isolated letters and sound relationships. Once the student has learned the letters and sounds, the student is taught to blend sounds in order to decode words. The child will also have a speech therapist, invite the speech therapist to the classroom to help the child when you are teaching language lessons.