Speech and language development
Speech and language development are commonly the areas of greatest delay. Some people have great difficulty speaking clearly and fluently. The difficulties that some people with Down syndrome can experience are related to a combination of physical factors, including muscular development and the activity of the brain that is required to produce clear speech.
Publications marked with this symbol are available for DSV members to borrow from the DSV Resource Library.
See our information area iPads iPods and apps for information and resources on using these for communication.
Down Syndrome Victoria & Down Syndrome NSW Voice March 2011, vol 2 issue 1 has a focus on Communication, including articles on: Social communication skills
Helping your child develop practical language skills to support social interaction.
Why is it so hard to speak clearly?
Overview of the challenges people with Down syndrome experience with speech and language skills.
There’s an app for that!
Introduction to the potential of app technology to support communication skills.
Libby Kumin (2003) Early communication skills for children with Down syndrome – a guide for parents and professionals Woodbine House
This book is one for every family shelf – a comprehensive handbook and guide to speech and language skills in young children with Down syndrome including a wealth of advice, recommendations and activities to support the development of early speech and language skills. Highly recommended. (And when you are done with it, you can move on to the sister volume for older children – see below!)
Libby Kumin (2008) Helping children with Down syndrome communicate better: speech and language skills for ages 6-14 Woodbine House
The sister volume to Early communication skills…(above), this book is just as comprehensive and indispensable. With a solid focus on practical communication skills, this book is a comprehensive guide and handbook for parents and educators.
Sue Buckley (2000) Speech and language development for individuals with Down syndrome – an overview Down Syndrome Education International (formerly Down Syndrome Educational Trust). Available online at: http://www.down-syndrome.org/information/language/
Detailed guide to what is known about speech and language skills and their development and associated challenges in people with Down syndrome. Good overview of this field and the research that has been conducted. More detailed examination of specific issues relevant for children of different ages can be found in the associated volumes in the same series listed below.
Sue Buckley and Gillian Bird (2001) Speech and language development for infants with Down syndrome (0-5 years) Down Syndrome Education International (formerly Down Syndrome Educational Trust). Available online at: http://www.down-syndrome.org/information/language/early/
Sue Buckley and Gillian Bird (2001) Speech and language development for children with Down syndrome (5-11 years) Down Syndrome Education International (formerly Down Syndrome Educational Trust). Available online at: http://www.down-syndrome.org/information/language/childhood/
Sue Buckley and Gillian Bird (2002) Speech and language development for teenagers with Down syndrome (11-16 years) Down Syndrome Education International (formerly Down Syndrome Educational Trust). Available online at: http://www.down-syndrome.org/information/language/adolescent/
Duffy, Tessa (2004) Ask the speech and language therapist. Speech, language and communication for children: Top twenty questions Down’s Syndrome Association (UK)
This article poses and answers twenty important questions about speech, language and communication, covering children of all ages, providing good introductory information on a number of related topics.
Kumin, Libby (2002) ‘Why can’t you understand what I’m saying? Speech intelligibility in daily life’ Disability Solutions Vol 5 issue 1
Article which looks in detail at speech intelligibility – how understandable it is. It examines a range of factors which affect intelligibility and offers activities to address some of these. The article also includes useful explanations and definitions of some of the terminology used to talk about speech and language development.
Baksi, Leela (2005) Supporting people who have Down's syndrome to overcome communication difficulties Down’s Syndrome Association (UK)
Tips and advice for communicating with people who have Down syndrome. Discusses some of the communication challenges faced by people with Down syndrome and offers strategies that everyone can use to facilitate communication with family and friends who have Down syndrome.
Communication skills for life “A speech-language resource blog for parents, professionals, and friends of children with Down syndrome.”
Good for keeping up with latest developments in technology to support communication.
Speech-language pathology sharing
Blog by San Diego based speech and language pathologist, Eric Sailers which has great information and tips for app technology users. It includes a lengthy resource list of apps relevant to communication development.
Discovery – pathways to better speech for children with Down syndrome (2005) (DVD) Will Schermerhorn Blueberry Shoes Productions
This DVD offers a good overview of speech and language development and some of the challenges for children with Down syndrome. Good practical advice and tips for supporting skills development in younger children.
What did you say? A guide to speech intelligibility in people with Down syndrome (2006) (DVD) Libby Kumin and Will Schermerhorn, Blueberry Shoes Productions
This DVD presents a comprehensive study of all the factors which impact on speech intelligibility in people with Down syndrome.
Development in practice – speech and language activities for pre-school children with Down syndrome (2007) (DVD) Down Syndrome Educational Trust
“This film explains and demonstrates activities for promoting communication, speech and language development for pre-school children with Down syndrome from 18 months to 4 years. It focuses on practical strategies to promote speech and language development that can be woven into everyday play, routines and activities.”
Dysfluency and stammering
Baksi, Leela (2004) Dysfluency, stammering, getting stuck Down’s Syndrome Association (UK)
Kumin, Libby (2002) ‘You said it just yesterday, why not now? Developmental apraxia of speech in children and adults with Down syndrome’ Disability Solutions Vol 5 issue 2
Detailed discussion of apraxia with lots of tips and a further resources reference list….
Olsson, Carrie (2003) ‘Lessons by Abigail: Educating a seasoned speech-language pathologist named mom’ Disability Solutions Vol 5 issue 3
Second in series of two articles on apraxia – focus on childhood apraxia.
The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America has extensive and reliable information, and also hosts the discussion group
Kumin, Libby ‘Speech intelligibility and childhood verbal apraxia in children with Down syndrome’ Down Syndrome Research and Practice 10(1), 10-22
Research article documenting a significant study of verbal apraxia in children with Down syndrome conducted in the US.
Augmentative and alternative communication
Mirenda, Pat (1999) ‘Augmentative and alternative communication techniques in inclusive classrooms’ Disability Solutions Vol 3 issue 4
Libby Kumin (2008) ‘Assistive technology for communication’ ch 10 in Helping children with Down syndrome communicate better: speech and language skills for ages 6-14 Woodbine House