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Accommodations & Inclusion Strategies for Teaching Children with Down Syndrome

written by: Victoria Trix • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 4/5/2012

Children with Down Syndrome will need special accommodations and curriculum modifications in the classroom. By incorporating their IEP expectations into accessible learning designs, both teachers and parents at home can provide the type of learning environment these children can thrive in.

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    Children with disabilities need special provisions in order to have a positive learning environment. It is possible for them to learn and be productive in school; they simply need to be in the correct environment and have access to the needed materials. In order to help children with Down Syndrome learn, teachers must obtain the proper teaching aides to achieve positive results.

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    What is Down Syndrome?

    Down Syndrome is a well-known genetic disorder caused by a chromosome abnormality that occurs before birth. Typically babies have 46 chromosomes, but those with Down Syndrome are born with 47 chromosomes, which causes abnormal changes in the development of the child’s body and brain. These children have very distinct characteristics. They are generally small, with a flat face and a tongue that sticks out. They do suffer from learning problems and most are classified as mildly or moderately disabled.

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    Down Syndrome and Learning

    A child's placement in an educational program will vary based on their specific abilities. In some cases, children with Down Syndrome are mainstreamed into their local school's regular education program. Students with Down Syndrome are capable of learning but often require additional resources outside a traditional classroom. Many schools have classes for students with disabilities that may not do well learning in a standard environment. There are also special schools geared for people with disabilities. As a teacher, there are several strategies you can implement to help the child with Down Syndrome thrive.

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    Inclusion

    Strive to make your classroom a place where each student, regardless of age or level of intellectual disability, feels part of the group and comfortable interacting with their other classmates. Encourage them to talk and interact positively with one another. Teaching them to feel comfortable in their environment helps to boost their confidence.

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    Self-Esteem

    Due to the facial differences that children with Down Syndrome have it is important for them to feel attractive and proud of their appearance. Teaching them to feel good about themselves allows them to have a better attitude and feel special. Every girl wants to feel pretty and every boy wants to be handsome. Make sure you and your class make positive comments about their skills and appearance.

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    Distractions

    Children with Down Syndrome generally suffer from a short attention span. They are easily distracted by the simplest things such as a light on the wall or a fly on the desk. In order to engage their learning capabilities it is important to break the lesson into chunks. They must be taught slowly and get frequent breaks in order to keep them focused. Be open to flexibility and change.

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    Talking

    Children with Down Syndrome often have trouble talking clearly. It is important to practice talking clearly and coherently. Make sure to have them talk clearly and make sure to talk clearly to them. Pay attention to the word or phrases they have trouble conveying and encourage them to try and speak correctly.

References

  • Based on author's experience.