How might speech therapy help a child with Down syndrome?

Speech therapy can help children with Down syndrome communicate and use language more effectively. Often children with Down syndrome learn to speak later than their peers, though they may understand language and have desire to communicate before they are able to speak.  Speech therapy can help them develop early skills they will need to speak (such as imitating sounds and strengthening muscles used for speech) as well as find alternative ways to communicate without words (e.g. sign language or pictures).

Speech therapy is often recommended for children with Down syndrome (DS) because of the challenges they may face in coordinating the actual movements (or physical processes) to communicate as well as to understand language and produce coherent messages (cognitive processes). Children with DS may have the desire to speak but need help in putting all the factors together. Speech therapists can evaluate children to determine their strengths and weaknesses when in comes to communication. They can create a plan to encompass areas of need, such as receptive (understanding language) and expressive language, grammar and vocabulary, when and how to use language, as well as oral motor (the physical aspects of creating language) issues.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.