Once a month, UpsnDowns funds our children to spend 30 minutes with a specialist speech and language therapist, who has many years of experience working alongside children with Down’s syndrome. NHS Budget and time constraints mean that children are seen by an NHS speech therapist on a much less frequent basis - usually annually or bi-annually. Therefore, UpsnDowns funded sessions have been invaluable for our children and families, offering support with a range of needs including; self-feeding, first words, vocabulary development, reading skills, listening skills, behaviours, sensory needs and managing emotions.
The Importance of Speech and Language
Language is vital for mental and social development. It can be argued that speech and language therapy is the most important part of intervention services for children with Down’s syndrome if we wish to promote their cognitive (mental) and social development.
Speech and language development are absolutely central to the cognitive development of all children. First, words equal knowledge and the faster a child learns vocabulary, the faster he or she is acquiring knowledge about the world. Therefore, vocabulary development is very important - the number of words that a child knows when he or she enters school at five years will have a very significant influence on progress. Secondly, language supports thinking and reasoning. The human brain has evolved a remarkable ability to learn spoken language with amazing ease and then to use that spoken language for mental activities. Thinking, reasoning and remembering, for example, are usually carried out in mind as 'silent speech'. It follows, therefore, that any child with significant delay in acquiring language will be delayed in the ability to use these cognitive processes. Although delayed, almost all children with Down’s syndrome will use spoken language as their main means of communication. The use of signs in early years will help them to progress but for most children signs are used as a bridge to talking, not to teach a sign language.
Language is equally important for children's social development as it enables them to negotiate their social world and to control their behaviour. For example, as children acquire language, they can ask for what they want, explain how they feel, describe what they have been doing and share thoughts and worries with friends. Children are able to begin to control their behaviour by using silent speech to instruct themselves and to plan their actions.
The more we can do to help children with Down’s syndrome to learn to speak, listen and communicate, the faster they will progress in all areas of cognitive and social development.
Click here to get in touch with us for more information on Speech and Language Therapy.