Trisomy Awareness Month: Spotlight on Down Syndrome

Did you know that March is Trisomy Awareness Month? In support of this awareness campaign, today we’re focusing our blog on one of the most common trisomy conditions: Down Syndrome.

Each cell in the human body typically has 23 pairs of chromosomes. Down Syndrome occurs when a person is born with an extra copy of chromosome 21. Because children with Down Syndrome often experience issues with communication, a speech-language pathologist can be an important part of their care team.

There are some aspects of communication that children with Down Syndrome excel at. Since they are generally social and eager to communicate with others, children with Down Syndrome are typically very good with social language and non-verbal communication. Vocabulary is also a relative strength. A speech-language pathologist working with a child with Down Syndrome will help them further develop these strengths and use them to maximize communication.

On the other hand, grammatical aspects of language, like sentence structure can be challenging. In speech therapy, the therapist may address any grammatical constructions that are causing confusion or negatively impacting communication. Down Syndrome also produces a range of physical issues that can interfere with speech production, making clear speech a challenge. A speech-language pathologist will help a child learn to work around issues like poor breathing or incoordination of the speech muscles to generate speech that is as clear and understandable as possible.

If a child’s speech or language is impacted to the point that they are unintelligible, the speech-language pathologist may help them learn to use alternative ways to express themselves, like picture systems or simple sign language. A speech therapist can also be a part of the child’s academic support team, working with their classroom teacher to determine how the child’s communication  plays into their academic needs and how to best help them succeed at school.

Do you have a child with Down Syndrome? What communication challenges have you faced  and how have you overcome them? Share your story in the comments section below!

If you have any questions or would like to know more about speech-language therapy, give us a call at (212) 308-7725 or send an e-mail to I’d be happy to chat and answer any questions you may have.

© 2017, Speech Associates of New York – All Rights Reserved




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