Information taken from American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS)
WHAT IS DOWN SYNDROME?
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that is caused by an extra chromosome. The additional genetic material causes impairments in cognition and differences in physical growth (i.e, low muscle down and downward slant of the eyes). It is estimated that Down syndrome affects 1 in 691 births in the United States making it the most common genetic condition in the US.
HOW IS SPEECH AND LANGUAGE AFFECTED?
Children who have Down syndrome are able to understand and comprehend more than they can express or communicate. This means that their receptive language is usually higher than their expressive language. Furthermore, they have strengths with social communication and the desire to communicate as well as with vocabulary. Areas that are difficult for them may include the following:
- Difficulties with grammar, verb tenses, and word endings
- Children may use shorter sentences to communicate
- Difficulties with the strength and coordination of muscle movements needed for speech
- Articulation difficulties with certain sounds
- Children may leave off the final sounds in words
HOW IS FEEDING AFFECTED?
Babies and children who have Down syndrome may have difficulty latching onto the nipple as well as coordinating the structures needed for a strong suck-swallow-breathe pattern that is needed for feeding. Adaptations to positioning as well as to the nipple or bottle may be needed to help your child have the proper nutritional input.
WHAT CAUSES DOWN SYNDROME?
As mentioned before, Down syndrome is a genetic condition caused by an extra chromosome.
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF DOWN SYNDROME?
Some characteristics are, but are not limited to, the following:
- Upward slant of the eyes
- Flat facial features
- Small nose and ears
- Low muscle tone
- Enlarged and protruding tongue
- Mild to moderate intellectual impairment
- Delays in gross motor milestones (i.e., crawling and walking)
- Difficulty with feeding
OUR APPROACH AT KEY THERAPIES:
We will develop an individualized treatment plan for each child based off of his / her current needs. We will work closely with physicians, nurses, occupational therapists, and other medical professionals to provide the best possible care. Furthermore, a home program will be taught to caregivers so that follow-through can be completed at home.