What's it all about? Investigating reading comprehension strategies in young adults with Down syndrome

The purpose of reading is for the reader to construct meaning from the text. For many young adults with Down syndrome, knowing what the text is all about is difficult, and so for them the activity of reading becomes simply the practice of word calling. It is suggested in the literature that for those individuals with Down syndrome, learning can continue into adolescence and that this may be the optimal time for learning to occur. However, a review of the literature revealed limited empirical research specifically relating to the reading comprehension of young adults with Down syndrome. Recent findings from Latch-OnTM(Literacy And Technology Hands On), a research-based literacy and technology program for young adults with Down syndrome at the University of Queensland, revealed that comprehension remained the significant area of difficulty and showed least improvement (Moni & Jobling, 2001). It was suggested by Moni and Jobling (2001) that explicit instruction in comprehension using a variety of strategies and meaningful, relevant texts was required to improve the ability of young adults with Down syndrome to construct meaning from written texts. This paper is based on an action research project that was developed within the Latch-OnTM program. The project utilised a modification of Elliot's (1991) action research model and was conducted to investigate specific teaching and learning strategies that would enhance the reading comprehension of young adults with Down syndrome. The participants were 6 young adults with Down syndrome ranging in age from 18 to 25 years. As the data from this project are still being analysed, preliminary findings of one participant are presented as a case study. The preliminary findings appear to indicate that the program of specific teaching and learning reading comprehension strategies used in this project was beneficial in the participant's reading comprehension.

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Parental experiences of feeding problems in their infants with Down syndrome

Although feeding difficulties in infants with Down syndrome are described in the literature, the experiences of parents regarding the feeding problems of their infants are largely omitted. In order to promote closer collaboration with families and speech-language therapists in early communication intervention, the study investigated some experiences of a group of parents concerning the feeding problems of their infants with Down syndrome. A descriptive survey approach was implemented to collect quantitative data. The results revealed the type of feeding problems and associated conditions occurring in the infants of the twenty participants; the type of feeding methods used; the assistance received during the feeding problems; the emotions experienced in relation to the feeding problems in their infants as well as suggestions made by the participants regarding the management of early feeding problems. Numerous feeding problems occurred in the infants and the variety of emotions experienced by the participants indicated that feeding therapy and counseling were required. As a result of the different conditions underlying the feeding problems of the participants' infants, a comprehensive approach, which included therapeutic and medical intervention, was necessary. In order to provide effective early communication intervention services from birth, the results indicated that the knowledge, skills and sensitivity of speech language therapists to identify caregiver needs, to provide appropriate family-focused intervention and to make recommendations regarding the management of feeding problems in infants with Down syndrome is of great importance

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Hair zinc level in Down syndrome

Immunological, endocrinological, and haematological abnormalities are relatively common in people with Down syndrome (Cuadrado & Barrena, 1996; Decoq & Vincker, 1995; Hestnes et al., 1991; Sustrova & Strbak, 1994; Nespoli, Burgio, Ugazio & Maccario, 1993; Kempski, Chessells & Reeves, 1997; Kivivuori, Rajantie, & Siimes, 1996; David et al., 1996; Gjertson, Sturm & Berger, 1999). Zinc is one of the elements that act in the maintenance of normal function of these systems. This study was designed to investigate zinc levels in children with Down syndrome. Zinc levels were measured in hair using atomic absorption spectrophotometry. The hair zinc level of 19 children with Down syndrome was compared with the zinc level of 11 typically developing children. Hair zinc levels were found to be significantly lower (p < .05) in those with Down syndrome (average 95.18 ± 56.10 ppm) than in the typically developing children (average 208.88 ± 152.37 ppm). Some of the problems experienced by children with Down syndrome may be due to these low zinc levels, but further research is required to confirm these results, and to establish any correlation with these problems.

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