Down Syndrome Research and Practice 1(3)

The significance of maternal speech styles for children with Down syndrome

Angela Byrne, and Sue Buckley

The aim of this study was to investigate whether mothers of children with Down syndrome are finding it difficult to provide their children with communicative experiences that might help promote linguistic progress beyond simple grammar, as a consequence of the children's own speech production difficulties. Nine children with Down syndrome were matched with nine typically developing children on level of receptive grammar. Video recordings of mothers engaging their children in ten minute conversations,in their own homes, were analysed. Mothers of children with Down syndrome made significantly more repetitions and expansions of their children's utterances than mothers of typically developing children did. Significant differences were not found in the amount of wh-questions, yes/no questions, tag questions, or two choice questions asked by mothers. Analysis of children's speech showed that children with Down syndrome had significantly shorter MLUs than the typically developing children. A greater percentage of children's longer utterances occurred when the preceding maternal utterance was a wh-question compared to a closed question. Almost three-quarters of closed questions received no verbal response or a single word answer from the child. Alternative strategies for managing conversations are discussed with the aim of extending the linguistic ability of children with Down syndrome.

Byrne, A, and Buckley, S. (1993) The significance of maternal speech styles for children with Down syndrome. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 1(3), 107-117.

Ocular disorders in children with Down syndrome

Siegfried Pueschel, and Stefan Gieswein

Seventy-three patients with Down syndrome between the ages of 5 to 18 years were initially enrolled in this study and there were 68 patients in the final sample. Information was obtained from previous ophthalmologic examinations and parents completed a questionnaire pertaining to ocular disorders. Subsequently, the patients' visual acuity was assessed using Snellen or Kindergarten Test Charts for far vision testing and the Rosenbaum Pocket Vision Screener or the Child's Recognition and Near Point Test for near vision screening. A select group of children underwent a detailed ophthalmologic examination. The results of the parent questionnaire and data from the initial ophthalmologic screening are presented in Table 1 and 2, respectively. Results obtained from screening as well as from ophthalmologic evaluations indicate that 12 of 68 patients had bilateral poor vision (20/50 or below) and 15 patients were found to be amblyopic. Five of the 15 children with amblyopia had associated strabismus, another five had anisometropic amblyopia, two had both strabismus and anisometropia and three patients had no associate findings. This study suggests that children with Down syndrome may be at a greater risk for visual impairment than previously reported and that many of them may have amblyopia. Therefore, it is important that these children be examined ophthalmologically at regular intervals and treated appropriately if a visual disorder has been identified.

Pueschel, S, and Gieswein, S. (1993) Ocular disorders in children with Down syndrome. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 1(3), 129-132.

Integration does make a difference

Anastasia Vlachou

This paper is an attempt to present some of the mechanisms which contribute in promoting integration as a regular educational activity, and not as a distinctive special task which has to be transplanted in ordinary educational programming. Continuity, participation and an extended notion of integration are integral parts of such mechanisms

Vlachou, A. (1993) Integration does make a difference. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 1(3), 95-100.

Group differences in response to charity images of children with Down syndrome

Beth Miller, Robert Jones, and Nick Ellis

The advertisements produced by charities for people with learning disabilities have recently been the subject of much research. The present study investigated the responses of five different groups - school-children, university students, the `general public', care-staff and parents of children with Down syndrome - to two charity posters. Significant group differences were found across all measures, with university students and school-children being most likely to say they would donate money on seeing the poster. School-children were also most likely to predict a positive change of feelings on their next meeting, and to assign positive attributes to the person they saw in the poster, whilst care-staff and parents were significantly more positive than the other groups about the capabilities of people with Down syndrome. One initially depressing finding showed that the general public would be more likely to donate on seeing the more traditional, `guilt-evoking' poster. However, a closer analysis revealed that this group was actually the least likely of all the groups to donate money: those groups who were most likely to donate showed a slight preference in favour of the less stereotyped poster. Thus it is concluded that charities who are looking for donations do not need to rely on feelings of pity and guilt; and in fact, for reasons of both fund-raising and consciousness-raising, would do better to use images which are positive and non-stigmatising.

Miller, B, Jones, R, and Ellis, N. (1993) Group differences in response to charity images of children with Down syndrome. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 1(3), 118-122.

From theory to practice in child language development

John Clibbens

This paper addresses current theoretical perspectives on child language development, and their implications for intervention. It is argued that language is a complex system consisting of a number of distinct, interacting, components, and that no single explanation for its development is likely to be adequate: the evidence suggests, rather, that different factors predominate in the development of different parts of the system. Some recent work with deaf children - on the development of sign phonology, and on maternal strategies for presenting signs to their children in context - is then discussed together with its implications for the use of signs with other groups, focusing particularly on the use of signed input with children with Down syndrome.

Clibbens, J. (1993) From theory to practice in child language development. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 1(3), 101-106.

Early intervention in the Netherlands: The struggle of a syndrome specific organisation

Erik de Graaf

As a country the Netherlands is generally known for its superior services for people with learning disabilities. However, in recent years, the introduction of early support for very young children has proved to be very difficult and time-consuming. This paper has been prepared by request of the European Committee of the International League of Societies for persons with Mental Handicap (ILSMH).

de Graaf, E. (1993) Early intervention in the Netherlands: The struggle of a syndrome specific organisation. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 1(3), 123-128.

See and Learn First Counting is designed to help parents and educators teach number words, numerals and counting from 1 to 10.

Designed for children with Down syndrome.

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