Latest News » The benefits of speech therapy for children with Down syndrome

Speech therapy may help children with Down syndrome succeed socially and academically.

Speech therapy may help children with Down syndrome succeed socially and academically.

Children with Down syndrome face many developmental challenges. As well as being more prone to various digestive disorders, people with this condition must also overcome many obstacles in their emotional, intellectual and social growth. While taking Down syndrome supplements and engaging in certain therapies can help with many of these issues, researchers from the University of Alberta have recently shifted focus to a more specific and widespread problem among this group: stuttering.

According to ScienceDaily, nearly 50 percent of children with Down syndrome stutter when they speak, but little research has been conducted to address this issue. Stuttering can pose significant roadblocks when it comes to making oneself understood – which can impair learning and make it more difficult to relate to others. So, in order to facilitate the healthy development of children with Down syndrome, a team of scientists from the university's Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research (ISTAR) set out to develop a speech therapy method that is better adapted to their unique needs.

"People who stutter, whether they have a developmental delay or not, can do very well with treatment," speech-language pathologist and study co-author Jessica Harasym told the source. She added that children with Down syndrome responded just as well to speech therapy as those without the disorder.

By occasionally using more simplified terms and developing different means of explaining and demonstrating certain skills, the researchers of ISTAR have reportedly been able to help children with Down syndrome increase their fluency. In the case of one young girl – Sarah – this ability allowed her to interact more easily with others and achieve more in an academic setting.

"When there is less interference with communication, a child […] can function that much better," ISTAR director and co-author Marilyn Langevin noted.

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