A Guide on Down Syndrome for Special Education Teachers
written by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch
• edited by: Sarah Malburg
• updated: 4/18/2015
Special education teachers may have a student with Down syndrome in their classroom. Find out here how Down Syndrome may affect a child’s academic performance, and get tips and strategies for meeting these children's special needs.
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An Extra Chromosome 21
Between 1999 and 2002, 11.8 children per 100,000 live births in the United States had Down syndrome, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; this number has increased by 24.2 percent from 1979 to 1983, in which the prevalence was 9.5 children per 100,000 live births. Normally, a fertilized egg has 23 pairs of chromosomes, but most children who have Down syndrome have an extra chromosome 21, giving rise to the name “trisomy 21." This extra chromosome affects the child’s brain development and physical development. As a result, a child can have a slower development. The severity of the symptoms range from mild to severe, which impacts the child’s performance in the classroom.
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Overviews on Down Syndrome
So how much do you know about Down syndrome? Having some knowledge on the disorder can help teachers who work with children with Down syndrome. These articles separate fact from fiction about the disorder, provide further information on physical symptoms, and discuss a dual diagnosis that some children have.
As mentioned, the majority of people with Down syndrome have an extra chromosome 21, which affects their development. Both teachers and parents can find further information below on the genetics of the disorder.
Early on in the child’s life, parents will notice the signs of Down syndrome. These signs may include the physical symptoms, such as a flattened nose, small mouth and upward slanting eyes. The delays in mental development may also be noticeable, such as a short attention span and impulsive behavior. Below are ideas and information for both teachers and parents on working with children with Down syndrome in their early years.
Some children with Down syndrome may benefit from an inclusion setting. If inclusion is chosen, then the teacher will need to educate the other children in the classroom about Down syndrome. These articles discuss inclusion in general, inclusion with children who have Down syndrome, and literature resources for teaching other children about the condition.
Children who have Down syndrome may need modifications and accommodations in the classroom to help them succeed. Teachers can find information about accommodations for children with the disorder and how to create these lesson modifications. Parents can also find information on special education services, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and what the eligibility criteria are.
Activities and Programs for Students With Down Syndrome
Bright Hub Education also has reviews and lesson plans for specific subjects that teachers can use when working with students with Down syndrome. Need a program to help a student with her handwriting? Or maybe you want to teach nutrition? You will find those resources below.
When working with children with Down syndrome, it may be helpful to know about what treatments they may be undergoing. These articles provide an overview on the treatments out there and medical tests that children may be getting.
Through adaptations, modifications and accommodations, teachers can help students with Down syndrome reach their full potential. Teachers, do you have any tips or lesson plans that have been helpful when teaching students with Down syndrome? Leave us a comment and let us know!