Saturday, June 14, 2014

Helpful Learning Activities for Children with Down Syndrome

If you have a son or daughter with Down Syndrome, you know that your experience with parenthood is quite different from that of other parents. You also know that with each day that passes, you experience the sweet love of a child who is so special and most precious. You have found that this child has enriched your life in ways that you could never have imagined.

At the same time, did you also know that early intervention programs that integrate special education with speech and physical therapy have been shown to boost the developmental potential of children with Down syndrome? Even though the skills and abilities of children with Down syndrome may vary greatly, many grow up to live independently or in supportive, group environments. It is also very possible for them to successfully hold jobs, especially when they are provided with the appropriate training and assistance.

For many children with Down Syndrome, education begins in mainstream schools. However, some parents choose special schools or schools that have programs tailored for their children. As the parent of a child with Down syndrome, you can be proactive to ensure that your child gets the support and education he needs---AND to which he is legally entitled.

The Need for Gross Motor & Sensory Activities

For all children, the development of gross motor activities is very important. However, these activities are even more critical for children with Down Syndrome. Children with this diagnosis are usually born with very low muscle tone, which means they will need to work considerably harder to develop their muscles. Because of this, children with Down Syndrome may often experience sensory issues as well. As a parent, you can help promote the development of better muscle tone through the use of specific gross motor activities. You can also positively impact the sensory processing issues with appropriate activities as well.

Help for Visual & Auditory Challenges

Children with Down Syndrome often lag behind their peers at every age regarding visual acuity. In addition, focus is usually quite poor, as they tend to under-accommodate by quite a large amount, whatever the distance of the target. This means that close work, especially in school, must be more difficult for these children because much of what they attempt to read or work is out-of-focus. Once again, parents can help with some of these struggles with the right activities, tools and guidance.

Orofacial development as well as craniofacial development associated with Down's syndrome can often contribute to inner, middle and outer ear problems. These issues might manifest themselves in the following ways: the adenoids may be large and/or the nasopharynx may be small; swallowing may be impaired and/or the Eustachian tube itself is very narrow and more horizontal than usual.

Children and adults with Down Syndrome may often have difficulty processing speech (especially with peripheral noise) and in locating the source of a sound. A mild hearing loss will make these tasks even more difficult. Persons with Down Syndrome do not usually complain of a hearing difficulty. Therefore, it is very important for hearing loss and middle ear disease to be detected with proper testing and evaluation so that remedial action is not delayed. At the same time, it is possible to help promote better auditory development by introducing some appropriate activities here, particularly with children.

This week's article is dedicated to the children (and their committed parents!) who are challenged daily with the learning struggles of Down Syndrome. We have gathered here many resources and activities to help with the unique needs of children with Down Syndrome. We hope they will benefit a special child you love---AND you!

Helpful Learning Activities for Children with Down Syndrome

12 of Our Best Gross Motor Activities from the We Can Do All Things blog
A good list of gross motor activities for Down Syndrome with links.

Let's Talk Learning. by Megan Landmeier, My Stubborn Miss blog
Article (and blog) written by the mother of child with Down Syndrome. She presents gross and fine motor activities together with matching, counting and even foreign language!

12 Booster Activities for Kids With Down Syndrome by Vicki Vila & Parents Magazine
Learning activities to help your child with cognitive and educational development.

PT & OT for Children with Down Syndrome by Stephanie Seguin, Chasing Hazel blog
Physical and occupational activities to do with children who have Down Syndrome. )

Your Child Has Down Syndrome by Els Rengenhart &
Children with Down Syndrome often suffer from sensory processing disorder as well. The activities here may be helpful for poor muscle tone and sensory issues.

Internet: Working With Children With Down Syndrome by Judith Maginnis Kuster & The ASHA Leader
Language and phonology activities as well as feeding and swallowing resources and information for parents of children with Down Syndrome.

Playing to Their Strengths: Teaching Children with Down Syndrome by Vicki Vila & the Thoroughly Modern Messy blog
Article (and blog) written by the mother of a child with Down Syndrome.

Other Resources and Sources for Information about Down Syndrome

Parenting a Child with Down Syndrome from WebMD
Reliable information about the signs and symptoms of a child with Down Syndrome.

Activities for Down Syndrome (Pinterest Board) via
A large collection of activities and resources for families of children with Down Syndrome.

Eye and Vision Problems in Children with Down's Syndrome by J. Margaret Woodhouse &
General information about vision issues of children with Down Syndrome (from the UK).

Hearing Impairment & Down's Syndrome by Susan Snashall &
General information about hearing issues of children with Down Syndrome (from the UK).

For more information on customizable reading tools for better focus & improved attention, please visit: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Our Journey at and
Brennan Innovators, LLC at


  1. See Sven read.
    The Amazing Tale of Sven

    “If you can teach my grandson to read, it will be a miracle.” This was the message we received from Sven’s grandmother, Catherine.

    Sven is a delightful young man with autism. At age 12 he was unable to read a single word. He could not read: “it,” “me,” “see,” or even his own name.

    Sven learned to read using the Nardagani system. He is now proud to be the best reader in his classroom!

  2. Dear Ms. Anderson,

    Many thanks for taking the time to tell us about Sven's reading success after some years of struggle. We will certainly take a look at this video entitled---The Amazing Tale of Sven. Thank you!

    Happy Reading!
    Joan Brennan
    Brennan Innovators, LLC