Teaching Children with Down Syndrome to Read

Teaching Children with Down Syndrome to Read

An article review

Original article written by Sue Buckley and Gillian Bird

The Down Syndrome Educational Trust, Down Syndrome Research
and Practice

1993, 1(1) 34-39

As a speech pathologist and a new mother of a beautiful baby
girl who has Down syndrome, I am very interested in finding out ways to help
children with Down syndrome acquire language milestones faster and more
efficiently.  This article was shared
with me several months ago, and I would like to share the highlights with you.


Many children with Down syndrome show the
ability to learn to read single words at early ages, between 2-4 years

Children in the study showed that they could
understand what they were reading.

enhanced spoken language development and articulation development.

Every child is different.  Some children with Down syndrome may not show
interest in reading until they are school aged or later. 

Start by teaching familiar words, such as family
names or words the child already comprehends or uses.  Match words with pictures of these objects
using flashcards.  Use ‘errorless
learning’ by prompting the child to complete the activity without allowing them
to make a mistake. (You may have to guide his hand to the correct flashcard,
rather than letting them choose one for himself.) As he becomes more confident
and familiar with the activity, slowly offer less and less help until the child
can complete the activity correctly on his own.

As the child learns more and more words, you can
begin to combine words to make phrases and sentences. Always make sure the
child understands what he is reading.

The article ends with a parent’s personal account of how
teaching her daughter to read has improved her speech development, academic
achievements, and language use and comprehension. 


To my friends in therapy and my little one at home, all I
can say is “Get ready for flashcards! Let’s read together!”


DeeAnna Cook
Speech language pathologist