Children with Down syndrome should receive speech and language therapy in school through the student’s IEP. Some families also choose to have private speech therapy outside of school and pay for it through their insurance. Speech therapy in the school can be done one on one with a therapist (noted as “individual therapy” in IEP) or in small peer-to-peer groups (noted as “group therapy” in IEP). The therapy sessions may happen outside of the classroom and location should be noted in the IEP. Some therapists, especially those in an inclusive school environment, “push in” speech therapy into the classroom (and even during lunchtime to help with social/conversational skills) and even manage certain academic goals in the child’s IEP.
Progress at five years will vary widely between children, with the majority of children with Down syndrome producing two- or three-word utterances and much of this difficult to understand. Most children will have significantly better comprehension than production. Some children will have quite clear production of three or four-word sentences but with grammatical markers missing. Reading activities are an important support for speech and language development throughout the school years.
Goals for speech and language therapists working with 5-11 year olds with Down syndrome: