Top Tips for Professionals Working with Children with Down’s Syndrome.


It is important to remember that the person with Down’s syndrome is an individual. Therefore the appropriate terminology to be used is; a child with Down’s syndrome or a person who has Down’s syndrome.

Remember developmental age not just chronological age

Most children with Down’s syndrome have a degree of developmental delay. During appointments remember a child’s developmental age when planning tasks, finding resources and also the desired behaviours.

Give specific instructions about what you want the child to do and SHOW them

Most children with Down’s syndrome have delayed Speech and Language development. Don’t just rely on spoken words; use the child’s strength in visual learning to support your tasks.

Reduce your language

Reduce longer, more complex instructions into shorter ‘chunks’, use 2-3 meaningful words at a time. Also refer to the child’s most recent Speech and Language Therapy report for full details of the child’s speech, language and communication needs.

Use visuals

Children with Down’s syndrome are very good visual learners. Visuals include signs, pictures, written words and objects. Visuals last longer than the spoken word. Use visuals in all activities.

Give the child time to process what you have asked them

Give the child time to process what you have asked them to do, sometimes it helps to count in your head to ensure you pause long enough; this is really hard for adults to do!

To encourage participation in your tasks offer choices

Offer choices in all tasks…..this may include types of reward, objects and answers to questions; this strategy cues the child in really well. E.g. do you want a red one or a yellow one?  a big step or a little step? etc

Remember the child’s hearing status

Many children with Down’s syndrome have some degree of hearing loss, many children have glue ear and this can cause a fluctuating hearing loss. Pleased refer to the child’s most recent Audiology report for specific information on the child’s hearing status.

Positive praise and reinforcement really works!

During your session tell the child what they have done well. Use specific praise such as ‘good sitting’ ‘good thinking’ ‘good walking’ etc  this will encourage them to repeat the action again.

Ensure a successful ending

If testing a child & they fail on one attempt ensure the next attempt will be successful. This maintains the child motivation & also checks child’s comprehension of task.

You can view and download our ‘Tell It Right – Start It Right’ A4 PDF poster here

You can view and download our ‘Unlocking Potential’ A4 PDF poster here

You can view and download our ‘Key Aims’ A4 PDF poster here