Down Syndrome and Learning to Talk (NDSC 1997 Convention Handouts)

James D. MacDonald, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Director
Communicating Partners Center
332 Mimring Road
Columbus, OH 43202
Telephone and fax: (614) 447-0010

Frequently Asked Questions

The findings below result from a 25 year clinical research program at the Ohio State University directed by Dr. James MacDonald. Over 200 families with children with Down syndrome were studied within therapy programs. For more detailed discussions of the questions and practical ways parents can help children communicate read Becoming Partners with Children, Before Speech and First Words available from the above address.

Why Do Children with Down Syndrome Have Difficulties Learning to Talk?

What Can I Do to Help My Child Talk?

Use the guide below to prepare you child to be a frequent and enjoyable talker. To help you learn these strategies, refer to the two new home activity books, Before Speech and First Words.

What Does My Child Need Before He Talks?

The more your child is in the habit of doing the following things, the more ready he will be for language. Use the checklist below to prepare you child to talk.
My child is ready to talk when he or she: To determine how ready your child is for language, score him from 1-5 on the skills above.
1 = never or not at all
2 = seldom
3 = occasionally
4 = frequently
5 = always or strong and stable
Then, use the Before Speech activity diary to build these skills with your child. Begin focusing on one or two skills your child gets at least a score of 3 on, so that both of you begin with successes, then proceed to building up to lower skills. Be sure to enjoy doing these; avoid making it hard work for either of you.
The following 1997 NDSC Annual Conference audio cassettes are available by James D. MacDonald, Ph.D., CCC-SLP:
010A. Communicating with pre-verbal children with Down syndrome
010B. Communicating with verbal children with Down syndrome