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Down Syndrome Research and Practice 9(3)

Profiles and development of adaptive behavior in children with Down syndrome

Elisabeth Dykens, Robert Hodapp, and David Evans

The profiles and developmental trajectories of adaptive behavior were cross-sectionally examined in 80 children with Down syndrome ages I to 11.5 years using the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales. Profile findings indicated a significant weakness in communication relative to daily living and socialization skills. Within communication itself, expressive language was significantly weaker than receptive skills, especially when children's overall communicative levels were above 24 months. One to 6-year-old children showed significant age-related gains in adaptive functioning, but older subjects showed no relation between age and adaptive behavior. There was, however, increased variability within this older group, implying that not all children plateau in adaptive development during the middle childhood years. Implications for development in Down syndrome and intervention programs were discussed.

Dykens, E, Hodapp, R, and Evans, D. (2006) Profiles and development of adaptive behavior in children with Down syndrome. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 9(3), 45-50.

Gross motor skill acquisition in adolescents with Down syndrome

Sarah Meegan, Brian Maraj, Daniel Weeks, and Romeo Chua

The purpose of this study was to assess whether verbal-motor performances deficits exhibited by individuals with Down syndrome limited their ability to acquire gross motor skills when given visual and verbal instruction together and then transferred to either a visual or verbal instructional mode to reproduce the movement. Nine individuals with Down syndrome (6 males, 3 females) performed 3 gross motor skills. Both visual and verbal instructional guidance was given to the participants over a 4-day period. Twenty-four hours later, the participants were video recorded as they produced the movements (used as baseline measures). On Day 6, they were randomly assigned into verbal and visual groups and required to reproduce the skills while the experimenter provided either visual demonstration or verbal instructions depending on the group. Based on skill performance scores, participants in the verbal-motor performance group demonstrated a lower level of proficiency and an increased number of performance errors when compared to participants in the visual-motor performance group. Moreover, while the visual group demonstrated an increase in performance levels compared to baseline measures, the opposite effect was seen for the verbal group.

Meegan, S, Maraj, B, Weeks, D, and Chua, R. (2006) Gross motor skill acquisition in adolescents with Down syndrome. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 9(3), 75-80.

Evidence that we can change the profile from a study of inclusive education

Sue Buckley, Gillian Bird, and Ben Sacks

This paper discusses the evidence that the specific developmental profile frequently described as being associated with Down syndrome - a profile of communication weaknesses relative to social and daily living skills - can be changed. It is not an inevitable outcome of having Down syndrome. Drawing on data collected to explore the outcomes of fully inclusive education for school-age children with Down syndrome, the authors identify that the profile is seen in teenagers in special education settings but is not evident for teenagers in inclusive education. They argue that this is the result of both the effects of fully inclusive education and teaching approaches which have been adapted to address the cognitive and communication weaknesses of the children from an early age.

Buckley, S, Bird, G, and Sacks, B. (2006) Evidence that we can change the profile from a study of inclusive education. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 9(3), 51-53.

Early learning and adaptive behaviour in toddlers with Down syndrome: Evidence for an emerging behavioural phenotype?

Deborah Fidler, Susan Hepburn, and Sally Rogers

Background: Though the Down syndrome behavioural phenotype has been described as involving relative strengths in visuo-spatial processing and sociability, and relative weaknesses in verbal skills and motor planning, the early emergence of this phenotypic pattern of strengths and weaknesses has not yet been fully explored. Method: In this study, we compared the performance of eighteen 2 to 3-year-olds with Down syndrome to an MA-matched comparison group of nineteen 2 to 3-year-olds with mixed developmental disabilities, and an MA-matched comparison group of 24 children with typical development on two developmental measures: the Mullen Scales of Early Learning and the Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales. Results: While the specificity of the Down syndrome profile was (for the most part) not yet evident, results showed that toddlers with Down syndrome in this study did show emerging areas of relative strength and weakness similar to that which has been described in older children and young adults with Down syndrome. This pattern included relatively stronger social skills, weaker expressive language, and poor motor coordination. When this pattern of strengths and weaknesses was compared to the developmental profiles of the two comparison groups, socialisation strengths differentiated the Down syndrome group from the mixed developmental disabilities group.

Fidler, D, Hepburn, S, and Rogers, S. (2006) Early learning and adaptive behaviour in toddlers with Down syndrome: Evidence for an emerging behavioural phenotype?. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 9(3), 37-44.

A comparison of mainstream and special education for teenagers with Down syndrome: Implications for parents and teachers

Sue Buckley, Gillian Bird, Ben Sacks, and Tamsin Archer

This article presents data from a research study designed to compare the achievements of teenagers with Down syndrome educated in mainstream classrooms or in special education classrooms throughout their full-time education. Progress is reported for speech and language, literacy, socialisation, daily living skills and behaviour. For all the teenagers, there is evidence of progress with age on all the measures except for communication. Communication continued to improve through teenage years for the included children but not for those in special education classrooms. There were no significant differences in overall outcomes for daily living skills or socialisation. However, there were large significant gains in expressive language and literacy skills for those educated in mainstream classrooms. Teenagers educated in mainstream classrooms showed fewer behavioural difficulties. Further, comparison with data published by these authors in an earlier study, showed no improvements in school achievements in special education over a 13 year period in the UK (1986-1999).

Buckley, S, Bird, G, Sacks, B, and Archer, T. (2006) A comparison of mainstream and special education for teenagers with Down syndrome: Implications for parents and teachers. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 9(3), 54-67.

Breaking the hype cycle: Using the computer effectively with learners with intellectual disabilities

Jan Lloyd, Karen Moni, and Anne Jobling

There has been huge growth in the use of information technology (IT) in classrooms for learners of all ages. It has been suggested that computers in the classroom encourage independent and self-paced learning, provide immediate feedback and improve self-motivation and self-confidence. Concurrently there is increasing interest related to the role of technology in educational programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities. However, although many claims are made about the benefits of computers and software packages there is limited evidence based information to support these claims. Researchers are now starting to look at the specific instructional design features that are hypothesised to facilitate education outcomes rather than the over-emphasis on graphics and sounds. Research undertaken as part of a post-school program (Latch-On: Literacy and Technology - Hands On) at the University of Queensland investigated the use of computers by young adults with intellectual disabilities. The aims of the research reported in this paper were to address the challenges identified in the 'hype' surrounding different pieces of educational software and to develop a means of systematically analysing software for use in teaching programs.

Lloyd, J, Moni, K, and Jobling, A. (2006) Breaking the hype cycle: Using the computer effectively with learners with intellectual disabilities. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 9(3), 68-74.

See and Learn Phrases 2 teaches two-keyword phrases illustrated in themed books using early vocabulary and simple matching, selecting and naming activities.

Designed for children with Down syndrome. Available as an app or as a printed kit.

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