Down Syndrome Research and Practice 4(1)
Jean Rondal, and Annick Comblain
In this paper, we will try to supply at least a partial answer to the three following questions. First, what language levels are reached by adults with Down syndrome? Second, is there progress in language or some aspects of it beyond adolescence and during the adult years? This question is related to the issue of a critical period for language development raised by Eric Lenneberg (1967). Third, what is the effect of ageing on the language of persons with Down syndrome, including those who develop Alzheimer disease in old age?
The integration of children with Down syndrome in mainstream schools: Teachers' knowledge, needs, attitudes and expectations
Heather Petty, and Jane Sadler
Nine mainstream primary teachers from one LEA in the North East of England (six with past and three with present experience of pupils with Down syndrome) took part in a study which aimed to identify those factors which may influence the outcome of full integration. Teacher knowledge, attitudes and expectations, levels of support and perceived needs were examined by means of semi-structured interviews and a questionnaire. A pilot information pack was developed on the basis of their perceived needs. Findings showed an increase in the number of children with Down syndrome integrated into mainstream primary schools, more pre-placement information regarding the child and higher levels of additional classroom staff than in the past. The main source of teacher knowledge was from background reading, the majority of teachers having received little or no input on SEN or Down syndrome during initial training or in-service apart from that offered by the Down Syndrome Association in two cases. While parental involvement was seen as an additional source of information by a few teachers, it was not generally either very frequent or highly valued. Teacher attitudes to integration and their expectations regarding the social and academic abilities of their pupils with Down syndrome varied considerably. This variation appears to be related not only to personal factors such as the perceived ability to meet the children's needs and degree of specialist knowledge, but also to external factors such as the degree of classroom support, information/resources and professional guidance available. All teachers who took part in the study were unanimous in the need to improve integration.
A functional systems approach to understanding verbal-motor integration in individuals with Down syndrome
Romeo Chua, Daniel Weeks, and Digby Elliott
In this paper we present the background, development and application of a functional systems approach to understanding verbal-motor integration characteristic of persons with Down syndrome. Based on our initial work utilising noninvasive, neuropsychological procedures, we have forwarded a specific model of brain-behaviour relations in persons with Down syndrome. The crucial characteristic of the model is the proposed functional disconnection of brain areas responsible for speech perception and movement organisation. In addition to describing the model, we summarize our recent work designed to test, refine, and extend it.
An action research study on the provision of training for special needs support assistants by a speech and language therapy department
This action research project describes an investigation into the effectiveness of the provision of five courses by speech and language therapists. These courses attempted to clarify and establish the role of the speech and language therapists in one locality's schools and the role of the support assistants in relation to communication disabled children. The sixty support assistants attending the courses all worked with children who had statements of special educational needs which indicated that speech and language therapy was required. The project used one small questionnaire from twenty-seven special support assistants (SSA's) to identify the support assistants training needs. Interviews with two education officers established the courses relationship to existing education training policies. The views, feelings and perceptions of the seven therapists providing the courses and the twenty-four support assistants attending the courses were investigated by the qualitative research technique of semi-structured interviews. The investigation suggested course attendance seemed to have little impact on the SSA's role perception of speech and language therapy. The courses had however been popular, well received and had been successful in providing an appropriate style of presentation and information level. The investigation resulted in some suggestions for the planning of future training courses for support assistants by the speech and language therapy service and proposals for possible future changes to foster role definitions.