Down Syndrome: Helping Your Child Learn to Communicate - Topic Overview
Down syndrome usually have delayed speech and language
development. Typically, these children have a much harder time learning to talk
(expressive language) than with understanding what they hear (receptive
language). On average, children with Down syndrome start using words around 16
months of age—about 6 months later than other children.
Children with Down syndrome are often taught sign language to
enhance communication and bridge the gap between expressive language and
receptive language. Although some parents worry that using sign language will
interfere with their child's speech development, evidence suggests that the
reverse is true. Sign language gradually decreases as speech abilities develop.
Simple measures can help your baby to develop speech and language
- Look directly at your baby when you talk to him
or her. Soon your baby will imitate and echo sounds that you
- Play games like peek-a-boo.
- Show different
objects to your baby. Say the object's name and describe it.
your baby see himself or herself in the mirror. Many children enjoy looking in the
mirror and babbling at their reflection.
- If your child shows
interest in an object, person, or event, say the name of the person or object
or talk about the event.
speech therapist can provide specific suggestions
based on your child's abilities. Usually, this includes detailed information
for a home program to help your child practice speaking.