Reading is generally a strength for children with DS, as they are visual learners. The children learn to read by recognising the whole word, rather than phonetically decoding words. To enable this skill to develop we must teach the child the concept of matching; first pictures to pictures, then word to words and finally pictures to words. This method of teaching whole word sight recognition using the process of match, select, name. Any reading scheme can be used for this method of teaching by making flash cards and lotto boards. New vocabulary can also be introduced in the same way i.e. match, select, name. As reading progresses, check that the understanding of the material keeps pace.
It is important children with DS are still taught phonics as they will use this for speech and when reading skills are developing.
Down Syndrome Education (DSE) have developed the See and Learn Language and Reading scheme which is designed to teach children language from first words to simple sentences. DSE have also developed a detailed intervention programme, called the Reading and Language Intervention for Children with DS, which can be used with school age children to develop their reading and language skills. For more information on these schemes visit the DSE website at http://www.dseinternational.org/