Down Syndrome Research and Practice 4(2)
Monica Cuskelly, and Inge de Jong
There are very few studies which have examined self-concept in individuals with an intellectual disability and none which have focussed on those with Down syndrome. The study found that children with Down syndrome with a developmental age of 4 to 6 years 11 months have a self-concept which is similar to that of normally developing children of a similar developmental age. The subscale means for both groups were positively skewed, and the subscale scores for both groups of children were found to be reliable over a one week period. Mothers' views of the self-concept of their child with Down syndrome were not correlated with children's own reports.
Linda Eaves, Helena Ho, Barbara Laird, and Sheryl Dickson
This study surveyed over 200 caregivers of persons with Down syndrome about availability of health information and resources. Only a third had excellent resources with clear and consistent information to support the development of their child. Half knew about the Preventive Medicine Guidelines; 36% reported health concerns in their children. Most felt they were required to seek information on their own. Pediatricians, Infant Development Program workers and family physicians were all found to be important and helpful to parents. There was a clear need expressed for professionals and public to be better informed regarding Down syndrome and for improved access to information for themselves.
The effects of a short training in the use of a rehearsal strategy on memory for words and pictures in children with Down syndrome
Glynis Laws, John MacDonald, and Sue Buckley
This study describes the effects of using a memory training programme with children with Down syndrome at schools for children with severe learning difficulties. The results suggest a small but significant improvement in memory spans for children at schools where they were trained by teachers or teaching assistants. There were no significant differences between auditory or visual stimulus presentation or between manual or verbal responses, but a three-way interaction between assessment point, stimulus presentation and response mode showed that memory and verbal recall of longer words particularly improved. Responses demonstrated a classic word length effect. One further finding was a significant correlation between reading and memory scores after the training.
Firstly, research addressing early intervention in Down syndrome is discussed. It is argued, in contrast to prior reviewers, that early intervention in Down syndrome does seem to yield positive effects in different developmental domains. However, the evidence of long-term effects appears to be mixed, albeit the implications of this state of affairs are arguable. Secondly, some recent trends in early intervention research are outlined. The implications of the recent emphasis on pinpointing strengths and weaknesses in Down syndrome and the emergent recognition of the importance of the context of child development are spelled out. The consequences of a contextualized approach to child development is discussed particularly in relation to the notions of outcome variables and the wider context of development, i.e. in terms of the impact of early intervention on families and the long-term goals of early intervention. Finally, it is argued that the time seems ripe to situate the early intervention movement in its sociocultural context, i.e. in the nexus of political, ideological and scientific factors.