Children with Down syndrome typically experience considerable delay when learning to talk, though they often comprehend more than they can express. It’s important to help your child with Down syndrome to revise speech errors at any age, but the toddler years offer a most impressionable period in your child’s speech and language development, as they are just beginning to say words and phrases.
If you are parenting a toddler with Down syndrome, here are some fun speech therapy activities that will keep your child entertained as they learn to communicate both verbally and with visual clues.
Tell Me More
Toddlers with Down syndrome need more time to begin forming multi-word phrases than most of their peers. The will typically need to have a 100-word vocabulary before they start doing so. You can help your toddler transition from one-word to two-word phrases by using a technique involving imitation and expansion. You will first repeat a word your toddler says and expand on it by one word. For instance, if your child says “cup”, you can say “Cup. Red cup.”
Sign It, Say It
Visual learning generally comes easily for children with Down syndrome, but understanding and remembering verbal communication is more difficult. Help your toddler learn the names of everyday objects by using simple visual clues along with the words. When the phone rings, for instance, put your finger to your ear and say “phone”, or say “drink” while you pretend to drink.
Together, You and I
Choose an object to which you draw your child’s attention, such as a favorite toy or picture, and encourage them to look at the object as you talk about it. You can gradually increase the amount of time you describe an item as your child’s attention to it increases. This type of joint attention when both you and your child look and communicate about the same thing, helps them to learn language more quickly and improve their attention span.
Rainbow of Learning
Gather several items around the house that are the same color, such as a blue shirt, blue cup and blue ball. Put them in a blue bag or painted blue box. If your toddler is at the one-word level, name the color when you pull out an item. If they are at the two-word phrase level, say the color and the name of the object.
If you have questions or concerns about your toddler with Down syndrome and their speech and language development, don’t hesitate to contact us at Speech and Occupational Therapy of North Texas to schedule a consultation.