October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month – About Speech

Submitted by Karen Prewitt, Mom/Advocate 

From the National Down Syndrome Society: “There are a wide range of abilities that children with Down syndrome demonstrate when using speech. Speech intelligibility (speech that can be easily understood) is one of the most difficult areas for people with Down syndrome at all ages. Many children have difficulty with the strength, timing, and coordination of muscle movements for speech.”

There are so many factors that enter into the picture for speech. It is something most of our folks have issues with, including Caleb. After he (finally) started walking (age 3), our main therapy focus turned to speech. We had started with sign language (we loved Signing Time). Single words were few and far between. We explored using the Hanen method, and it worked well, but the facility did not take our insurance. At almost $200/hour twice a week – just for speech – wasn’t in the budget at that point, so we worked harder at home. Flash cards helped a lot. Apps like Lingraphica did too. We tried Kinesiology taping too – to help his focus on those muscles. Reading books, going on play dates, finger play, all were helpful. Signing Time helped with sound production. The catchy songs and fun visuals were pretty engaging. More than once did I catch myself singing “The Silly Pizza Song” in the car with Caleb. 

Now that he’s ten, he still goes to Speech Therapy, and we continue to work on it at home. My personal feeling is that this is an area he might always struggle with, although we certainly know friends with Ds whose speech is very clear and intelligible. Early Intervention is key; I think some of it is just good fortune though. I see Speech Therapy in our future for quite a while. #dsam2017

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