Downs syndrome and SPD... Any info???

by kim
(PA)

My karate school wants to start a special needs class, which includes downs syndrome children. They want me to be involved as im a knowledgeable mom of an aspergers child. You know us moms who make it their business to be Drs. practically.

BUT, im not knowledgeable exclusively with Downs syndrome children, YET!, and i want to do the right thing by these beautiful children. Im SOOO excited at the prospect of working with our children who do need knowledgeable people that also LOVE AND CARE about their lives and happiness sincerely!!!!!

SO, if anyone has ANY info as far as what kind of certificate do you need to work with our children, OR medical advice, spd issues esp. Its all appreciated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you all, Kim

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Jul 05, 2014
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SPD and Down syndrome
by: Rachel M

It's common for children with Down syndrome to have sensory processing issues. There is considerable variation and range in how children with DS are affected by sensory sensitivities. Crossing the threshold into a new room is made more difficult when there's a strong contrast between the two rooms (much brighter/dimmer, louder, much more visual input, or a lot more people). Though I don't have any data, my general experience is that it is generally helpful to have a classroom that is simple, visually, not too bright, and to have kids line up before going in, so that they're not entering a room already full of people. Hearing problems are common, especially where there is ambient noise, but music should be soft, and easily adjustable, so that speech is easy to discern.

As for working with children with Down syndrome in general, it is important to wait longer than you are used to when expecting an answer to a question or a response to a comment. This is the advice I give most often, because it makes the most difference in the relationship you have with the person. Audio processing takes longer than usual, and motor planning for speech does as well. Speaking in short sentences is helpful--you don't need to simplify your grammar at all, but keeping the length of what you say closer to the length of what the child with DS says will result in longer and more meaningful conversations, and requires less of their working memory, which DS tends to reduce. Try to avoid too many yes/no questions, or on the other end, long explanations. Be aware that expressive language is usually far behind receptive language (they understand much more than they can express). In recent years, many children with DS have learned ASL signs to communicate before they learn to speak, and many children with DS will know at least the most basic signs.

Children with DS are relatively strong visual learners, and it is not uncommon for them to read before they talk. Learning through songs and rhythm is also often very effective. Lastly, patience, flexibility, and a sense of humor are great traits to cultivate in a person working with children with DS. Thank you for asking! :)

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