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What IsDown Syndrome

Before we start one extremely important thing to remember!

The language a society uses to refer to persons with disabilities shapes its
beliefs and ideas about them. Words are powerful; Old, inaccurate, and
inappropriate descriptors perpetuate negative stereotypes and attitudinal
When we describe people by their labels of medical diagnoses, we devalue
and disrespect them as individuals. In contrast, using thoughtful
terminology can foster positive attitudes about persons with disabilities.
One of the major improvements in communicating with and about people
with disabilities is "People-First Language.
People-First Language emphasises the person, not the disability. By placing
the person first, the disability is no longer the primary, defining
characteristic of an individual, but one of several aspects of the whole
person. People-First Language is an objective way of acknowledging,
communicating, and reporting on disabilities. It eliminates generalisations
and stereotypes, by focusing on the person rather than the disability.
That is why we DONT say Down Syndrome Baby or a Downs girl
We instead say; A baby with Down Syndrome or a girl with Down

Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder caused by

an error in cell division that results in an extra 21st
chromosome. The condition leads to impairments in both
cognitive ability and physical growth that range from mild
to moderate developmental disabilities.
In Other Words

There are normally 46 chromosomes in each cell, 23

inherited from your mother and 23 from your father.
When some or all of a person's cells have an extra full
or partial copy of chromosome 21, the result is Down

The Extra 21st Chromosome Causes Metabolic Imbalance

This causes problem of
Deletion of anti-oxidants .
Deletion of amino acids
Deletion of digestive enzymes and
Deletion of many other essential nutrients in their system
These deletion can cause differences in the:
General health
Developmental patterns
The three chromosome 21 produces one and a half times as much of
the enzyme superoxide dismutase sod1 as normal.
Sod1 is the antioxidant that is encoded on the lower arm of
chromosome 21. Over expression of sod1 overproduces hydrogen
peroxide which builds up in the cells and breaks down into more free

In simple words it means that :

Children with Down syndrome usually learn and
progress more slowly than most other children,
therefore their development tends to be delayed in
relation to chronological age.
However, not all areas of development are equally
affected. There is a specific pattern of cognitive and
behavioural features that are observed among
children with Down syndrome that differs from that
seen in typically developing children and children
with other causes of intellectual disability

Some Perceived Characteristics of Children With Down

Trust everyone, imitate, get hyper and sometimes act
Reasons for a child withstubborn
Down Syndrome being stubborn
Some of it arises out of a limited understanding of what is expected
of them. Difficulties in communication as speech comes much later.
Due to the nature of the childs mental process which does not
permit rapid changes from one conscious activity to another. One
must gauge whether obstinacy is natural or deliberate pertaining to
the situation.

More in tune with emotions than logic:

In the research it has been found that complex process of
thought and reasoning are the last to develop and the slowest
in the child with Down Syndrome.
The older parts of the brain, those that govern vital bodily
functions and those connected with feeling and emotion
are more advanced than those governing conscious
thought and reasoning.
Characteristics like affection, sympathy and sensitivity to
moods of others are related to basic emotions rather than

Most children with Down syndrome are very sensitive to other
peoples attitude towards them and shy away from people
who they feel, are indifferent towards them.
They are comparatively well behaved and generally do not
exhibit severe anti-social activities such as violence, hitting
others or destruction.
It has also been well documented that a child with DS would
never hit unprovoked.

Aarshia, just like other children with Down syndrome has particular strengths
and weaknesses associated with her learning development :
She is a visual learner.
She loves unconditionally.
She loves to be the centre of attention.
Her social and emotional intelligence is very high. She
understands a lot more than she can say.
She is able to follow classroom rules and routines.
She will need help to remember instructions eg shorter phrases or
visual clues.
Teacher expectations of behaviour, attitude and ability need to remain high


Expressive language, grammar and speech clarity

Children with Down syndrome show specific delays in learning to

use spoken language relative to their non-verbal understanding.
Almost every child will have expressive language that is delayed
relative to their language comprehension.

The gap between the childrens understanding and their ability

to express themselves is a cause of much frustration and can
sometimes lead to behavioural problems.

It can also result in the childrens cognitive abilities being

underestimated. Language delay also leads to cognitive delay as
much human learning is through language and language is
internalised for thinking, remembering and self-organisation.

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.

Studies suggest that the processing and recall of spoken

information is improved when it is supported by relevant
picture material. This information has led to educators
stressing the importance of using visual supports
including pictures, signs and print when teaching
children with Down syndrome as this approach makes
full use of their stronger visual memory skills.

Make it visual!

Courtesy: specialreads.com

Teaching To Read

Teaching reading
Almost all children with Down syndrome are
capable of reaching a level of reading achievement
that will be functionally useful if we, their parents
and teachers, believe that this is possible and
steadily help them to progress.
-Sue Buckley, Director
Down Syndrome Education International, UK

Why does a child read?

Why do we read?
To prove we can decode?
do we all read for content?

The only purpose of reading is to understand

the content.

Courtesy: specialreads.com

Why do SIGHT WORDS come

first for children with DS?
Learners with Down Syndrome may have:
Difficulty in short term

Difficulty in auditory
Fluctuating hearing loss throughout life
Deficits in auditory processing, which
impact phonological awareness:
difficulty in discriminating
sounds, blending sounds, and
the order of sounds in
short term memory

Understanding The Visual Pathway

As It Relates To Learning To Read
Its a jungle out there.
So how do we mature the visual
We also need to know that Reading is a
very complex process as it involves:
1.Visual perception
2.Visual recognition
3.Mental association
4.Solidification of the recognition
with the association
6.Goal: automatic
recognition, or
Orthographic Reading

Courtesy: specialreads.com

Maturing the
Visual Pathway
is a Practiced

Reading is a brain function.

Spelling is a set of rules.
-Glenn Doman

It is also important to know that

Phonics is a set of rules.

which might or might not work for our children.

If Possible, books without

too much visual clutter and with
big font size should be used. They
are easy for the brain to read!

Such Texts are difficult to read!

Another Great Resource

From the book Teach Your Child to

Read in 100 Easy Lessons

Our children will learn better if

Decoding is not the focus of reading.
Phonics is not the focus of reading.
Interest is the focus.
Content is the focus.
When we read for content, comprehension

Courtesy: specialreads.com

Some Comprehension Techniques That Can Be Followed For Our Children

Courtesy: specialreads.com

Comprehension Techniques

Errorless Learning
One fascinating tip that all of you may like to know and
use is that children with Down syndrome including Aarshia
are very SENSITIVE TO FAILURE. If they sense they will
not be able to do something correctly.
A lot of times she simply refuses to do if she feels she
would not be able to do a task. You may present a task to
her, which she may avoid or would not show interest. This
may think its just a behaviour, but it may also be her way
of trying to get out of doing the task as she may sense
that she wouldnt be able to do it.
A way around this is to use errorless learning. In other
words, build her confidence or give her ridiculously easy
choices so she can get it right. Once we assist her in
getting the answers right until she learns to do it herself,
she is more than happy to keep working.

As Of Today
As of today, Aarshia can read grade 1 books and book
like Peppa, Bruno, pepper, comfortably. She can
answer what who and where questions.
She can copy comfortably from the board but may take
a little longer than others.
Also her writing has improved greatly in last year and
she is writing within lines now.

Teaching Numbers

Typically, the achievements of individuals with Down syndrome in

numbers are at a lower level than their achievements in
Most children with Down syndrome struggle with basic
number skills and their number skills are typically some
2 years behind their reading skills
However, there is a wide range of progress and while
some children find number difficult, other children
with Down syndrome enjoy mathematics.
Research findings indicate that good teaching, using
their visual learning strengths promotes learning and
that children with Down syndrome follow the same
stages of progression as typically developing children,
although often with more steps and practice needed at
each stage

As of today, Aarshia knows her counting till 50 and is

proficient till 20.
She can rote count till 50 and recognise till 100.
She can do two digits addition without carry over.
She uses touch math for addition.
She can also do subtraction of single digit sums using her fingers.

Implications andStrategies

Specific Learning Difficulties



Frequent colds,
upper respiratory
infections and small
ear canals resulting
in impacted

Delayed speech
and language
When the hearing
is affected the
student will not
hear well in the

By making her sit

close to the teacher
(i.e. close to the
speaker) and by
making sure that she
is not getting any
bright light in her eyes
from a window.

wax,can cause
varying degrees of
temporary or
permanent hearing

Hyperacusis, ie.
over-sensitive to
loud noises. Aarshia
is also very sensitive
to loud noices.

responses to
from day to day

Give short instructions

possibly facing her.

Use language
appropriate to her
She places her hands
level of
over ears or want to
withdraw from
situations where there
is a lot of loud noise,
i.e. concerts,

Gross Motor Skills

Specific Learning Difficulties Implications

Varying degrees
of poor muscle
Slow motor
She is 'flat'


Should be
encouraged to
She is floppy and
participate in
loose jointed.
physical activity
along with his/her
Difficulties with coordination and gait. peers.

Aarshia may have

difficulty keeping
up with her class
walking/jogging is

She may need to

be taught how to
access playground
Verbal and
physical guidance
will assist her to
gain confidence.
Model or "talk" her
through the
Allow her to rest
when and where it
is appropriate.

Due to the broad range of physical characteristics and intellectual abilities,
students with Down syndrome may display varying degrees of intelligible

Aarshia may not be able If a she is not being understood,

to indicate his/her
please ask her to , "Show you.
personal needs. ( Now she
Aarshia is learning to talk and
can talk using 3-4 word
sentences however there
is a clarity issue)
try to talk in her limited sometimes
incomprehensible language. A little
She may show frustration motivation goes a long way for her.
associated with the
inability to communicate. Encourage her to use social
greetings and manners, eg.
She may use gesture as a
Good Morning", "Help me" and
form of
"Please"...and to communicate
at routine times, eg. at lunch.

Guide the other students to wait

for her to respond and
discourage them from talking
for her.


Short-term memory means that

Aarshia has difficulty retaining
instructions and may keep
forgetting them.
She may be unable to
retain multiple
Due to constant hearing loss
and challenges in listening
skills she may elicit only
parts of what has been said.

s Give instructions

in small
stages, eg...."Get the
book" ... wait for the student
to carry out the instruction,
then ... "Go to the table".
( though she is getting better
at multiple instructions now)

She may have difficulty

understanding the general
level of language used in the

She has limited, expressive

language structures, eg. 34 word sentences.

It may be necessary to
model what is required.
If you can, please spend five
minutes each day talking
with her.

Make the most of special

occasions to elicit language,
eg. birthdays. prayer time

Extend sentence structures

by modelling a more complex
eg. student ... "red truck"

Aarshia should be expected to conform to classroom and school rules the
as her peers.

She may throw tantrums or

be stubborn due to
developmental immaturity.
She may take longer to learn
the classroom and school
routines, ie. returning to the
class when the bell goes.
She may get over excited.

She sometimes may have

task avoidance behaviours.

Dont give up.

Routines may need to be reestablished at the beginning of
each term.
Rules will need to be explained
individually when on excursions.
Behaviour management will
require a time commitment
above what might normally be
She might not be understanding
what is required from her.

Specific Learning Difficulties

As with all students, Aarshia has strengths and weaknesses in various
In some curriculum areas, She may be able to do the same work as the
rest of the class.
Specific Learning Difficulties Implications
In other
areas, She may have some specific learning
difficulties and
require a more structured teaching approach.
Teaching the same
She may have
A lot of times she
skill in a variety of
difficulty in
is able to carry
generalising the
out a task at
skills taught.
home, but may not eg. She may be able
be able to do so in to draw a face in art
lesson, but may not be
the classroom.
able to do this in a
different lesson.
all personnel
involved in her
teaching will ensure

She may

She does
experience difficulty
in 'keeping up' with

At times she may

require an

Intelligence Have Dimensions Too!

Some More Strategies

Attack the heart! Sympathise, listen, be honest and real.
Sometimes Negotiation works with her. ( You and I would not
go to work if we werent getting something for it?) so
sometimes getting something at the end of a work well done
drives Aarshia.
Dont give rewards before the compliance is complete.
Be consistent. She will learn to comply.
Sandwich Method: ( immensely helpful in transitions)
A: Ill give you what you want if
B: You give me what I want.
C: Remember, Ill give you what you want.
If possible, give choices to make her feel

What are Aarshias and my expectations from the school?

Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its
ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life
believing that it is stupid Albert Einstein.
Take it slow.
Be patient.
Dont compare. Everyone is different and will remain
She wants what everyone wants. Acceptance!
Be the Nurse not the Doctor.
Your words will go a long way in sensitising other
children, please choose them carefully.

Believe in Justice!

You Are The Chosen One!

If God was talking to you, he wouldve said the exact same thing
You need a sign. What better one could I give than to make this little one
whole and new? I could do it, but I will not. I am the Lord and not a
conjurer. I gave this mite a gift I denied to all of you-Eternal innocence.
To you she look imperfect-but to me she is flawless, like the bud that
dies unopened or the fledgling that falls from the nest to be devoured
by the ants. She will never pervert or destroy the work of my fathers
hands. She is necessary to you.
She will evoke the kindness that will keep you human. Her infirmity will
prompt you to gratitude for your own good fortune. More! She will remind
you every day that I am who I am, that my ways are not yours, and that
the smallest dust mote whirled in darkest space does not fall out of my
hand. I have chosen you. You have not chosen me. This little one is my
sign to you. Treasure!
-Morris Wests The Clowns of God expresses best my