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Down Syndrome: Training and Therapy for Young People - Topic Overview

People with Down syndrome usually have some level of independence by the time they become adults. Different types of specialized therapies, counseling, and training can help them learn necessary skills and manage emotional issues.

The common types of therapy and training include:

  • Speech and language therapy. Children with Down syndrome usually learn to talk but do so later than other children. Typically, they understand speech (receptive language) much better than they are able to speak (expressive language). Structural abnormalities of the mouth or tongue may make it difficult for children with Down syndrome to talk. Sign language can help bridge this gap to enhance their communication.
  • Physical therapy. The goal of physical therapy is to make daily tasks and activities easier. Physical therapy helps people learn how to strengthen and position their bodies. This can help children learn to sit, stand, and walk in safe ways. A physical therapist usually shows parents techniques that they can practice at home with their child.
  • Occupational therapy. Occupational therapy seeks to improve functional skills in small motor skill areas, such as eating or handling objects. Also, fine motor skills are taught, such as buttoning and unbuttoning clothing.
  • Nutritional counseling. Children with Down syndrome tend to become overweight. This happens because they usually burn calories more slowly than children who do not have Down syndrome. Also, they may not participate in regular physical activities because of health concerns. A registered dietitian can help create a nutritious diet plan and offer helpful ideas for feeding your child.
  • Vocational training. This usually is provided by school districts and often begins in high school. Teens and young adults are evaluated and trained for jobs that match their strongest skills. This helps them be independent and reach their full potential.

For more information, see the topics Speech and Language Development, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Healthy Eating for Children.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 20, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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