As a mother, and an SLP with a passion to see children with Down syndrome succeed, I focus heavily on speech sounds. The speech sound system is often a confusing puzzle to children with Down syndrome. Hearing, distinguishing, and producing speech sounds can be challenging. Identifying individual sounds in words, and matching them with letters is a foundational literacy skill, that is also challenging. However, the way we approach instruction about speech sounds can make a huge difference not only for articulation, but for reading and spelling success.
I have long advocated the importance of targeted, intensive practice to develop our children's articulation accuracy. And in tandem, I have long advocated focusing on letter SOUNDS, and explicitly not teaching letter names to beginning readers.
I have just come across two blog posts that explain the importance of teaching letter sounds, and not letter names. I'll put links to both blog posts here:
I welcome your comments, and hearing about your experiences.
Once children are verbal and able to remember words and numbers, I make a point of teaching them to clearly articulate their name, phone number, and address. This of course relies on their memory. And it requires the child to use slow, deliberate speech, with pauses between words. This gives the listener the best chance of understanding what is being said.
I recently read an article that highlighted a main reason why we teach children to memorize their basic information. You can read it here (I recommend reading the story, not the video):
Let's strive for a school system, where from the top down, administrators, and educators see their role as including being advocates for all students, including students with disabilities. In this article, Greta Harrison makes important statements, " I believe parents of children with disabilities receive much more “bad news” from teachers than good news.....I have been thinking about how different each school and school system would be if every educator had a positive attitude — if every educator truly felt they were each child’s advocate. "
In this video, Jill explains the best way to teach your child the meaning of spoken words.
Why teaching letter names may impede your child's learning. Fortunately, there is a better solution. Jill explains.
By Jill Hicks, M.Sc., Speech-Language Pathologist
By Jill Hicks
Sometimes students with different learning abilities are assigned to a "Life Skills" program. The problem isn't with learning life skills. Life skills are important. The problem is deciding students with Down syndrome should not be included. That they are incapable of benefiting from academic instruction.
Click on the colored "Read More" to continue.
By Jill Hicks
Carly Anderson has written an excellent article to prepare parents for IEP/IPP meetings. Carly gives practical advice about how to be prepared for the meeting, how to keep communication open, set goals and measure progress. Well worth the read. You can find the article by clicking this link.
Make sure your child has been referred to the school SLP. Many schools will automatically refer a child with Down syndrome to the school SLP. In some cases a parent request for a referral to the SLP may be necessary. You may be required to sign a release form to allow the school SLP to see your child. This should be done as early as possible in the school year.
Click the colored "Read More" below to continue.
To quotes below were taken from the article: Inclusive education vital for all, including persons with disabilities – UN experts. (bold mine)
"a truly inclusive learning environment values the contribution and potential of persons with disabilities, and equips them with essential life, language and social skills."
“Placing students with disabilities in mainstream classes without accompanying structural changes to, for example, organisation, curriculum and teaching and learning strategies, does not constitute inclusion”
“Inclusive education is important not only for persons with disabilities but the societies they live in, as it helps to combat discrimination, and to promote diversity and participation.”
“focuses on the full and effective participation, accessibility, attendance and achievement of all students, especially those who, for different reasons, are excluded or at risk of being marginalized.”
To read the original article "Inclusive education vital for all, including persons with disabilities – UN experts" click here.
It is important to note that this convention supports our teachers acquiring the skills they need to provide inclusive education. Inclusive education works best when teachers are given adequate support and training. Quote from "Article 24: Right to inclusive education" point 12 d):
"Supported teachers: All teachers and other staff receive education and training giving them the core values and competencies to accommodate inclusive learning environments..."
To read the full text of "General Comment No. 4" click here:
Article 24: Right to inclusive education (Adopted 26 August 2016) from the "Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities".
For a powerful resource to help your child speak
Jill Hicks is the mother of a child with Down syndrome and a speech-language pathologist. Her passion is to empower others to help people with Down syndrome.